9 Bank IT failures |
98. Since 2012, Ulster Bank has suffered two major
IT failures; in June 2012 a system failure prevented Nat West,
RBS and Ulster Bank customers from being able to access their
accounts into late July, with ongoing issues stretching into August.
Then, in December 2013, Ulster Bank customers experienced more
payment and account problems just days after many customers were
unable to access online systems or use bank cards for payments.
99. In the memorandum submitted by IBOA, it was stated
Northern Ireland may also suffer in terms of
the quality of investment in its economic, commercial and social
infrastructure. Northern Ireland may not rate highly in either
strategic or operational priorities-as Ulster Bank's customers
will readily testify when a temporary IT glitch for RBS and NatWest
customers became an IT meltdown for Ulster Bank-lasting weeks.
100. Commenting on the IT failures, Sam Woods, from
the Bank of England Prudential Regulation Authority, said, in
January 2014, that:
... this is a very difficult area, not least
because the IT systems are so antiquated. Although I feel we are
making progressfor instance, the breakdown that RBS had
shortly before Christmas did not escalate to the same level of
issue partly because of the remediation that has been done following
the June 2012 incidentI feel we are, I am afraid, a very
long way from being able to sit here with confidence and say,
"UK, including Northern Ireland, banks' IT systems are robust."
101. The 2012 and 2013 incidents were not the end
of the matter, as there were further problems in April 2014, when
some Ulster Bank customers reported that ATM withdrawals had been
debited from their accounts twice.
102. It is clear
that banks' IT systems are not fit for purpose, and this has led
to the totally unacceptable situation of some customers being
unable to access their accounts, or experiencing other problems,
since 2012. With a turnaround in the situations of all Northern
Ireland's banks, whereby they have now returned to profit, we
believe that some of those profits should be used to update their
IT systems, thereby benefitting their customers.
103. On 10 April 2014 the Assembly's Committee for
Enterprise, Trade and Investment held a meeting with the Ulster
Bank during which the report on the "IT glitch" was
discussed. During this session Jim Brown, Ulster Bank's Chief
Executive, said that the FCA and the Bank itself had completed
investigations into the IT failures and would publish their findings
once "the regulatory negotiations had been completed".
We understand, however, that, since then, there has been no further
correspondence to indicate that the report has been published,
or may be published in the future. The
public were badly let down by Ulster Bank, and we believe, therefore,
that either Ulster Bank, or the FCA, should publish its report
into the Bank's "IT glitch" without any further delay.
85 IBOA The Finance Union (BNI0015) para 2.3 Back
Northern Ireland Assembly: Official Report (Hansard), Committee
for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, 'The Future of Ulster Bank: Ulster Bank',
10 April 2014 Back