Across The Pond, A Payments Glitch

Source: The Guardian

National Westminster Bank customers last week were inconvenienced by a software scandal that uprooted their transactions.

Whether at the deli, the corner store or the ticket counter, the retail customers of NatWest, which is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, weren’t able to make a payment from their accounts. That means no debit cards, Natwest issued credit cards or bank transfers.

Roughly 12 million NatWest banking customers didn’t have access to their saving. Some, reportedly, even lost their new homes. 

From The Register:

The tech problems at the RBS banking group that left millions of people unable to access money for four days last week were caused by a failure in a piece of batch scheduling software, sources have told The Register.

And at least some of the support staff for that software have been outsourced to India – as recently as February.

Batch scheduling software is used to process routine jobs on a computer without the need for manual input: jobs are prioritised, scheduled and performed automatically – saving human time and using computer resources more efficiently. However the batch scheduling software needs to be maintained and overseen and it’s there that our two sources believe the error occurred.

Still, the breach wasn’t external. It was the result of a software glitch.

Says Celent senior analyst Zilvinas Bareisis, in an email:

As a result, people couldn’t pay for their hotels, complete house purchases and experienced other similar issues. Having said that, I was abroad and successfully used my NatWest cards to withdraw cash and pay for purchases.

It’s unfortunate, but these things can happen to any bank; the question is how they deal with the situation. NatWest apologised, stayed open throughout the weekend and has been compensating the affected customers. From what I understand, the underlying issue has now been resolved and the bank is working through the backlog of transactions.

The problem, however, shouldn’t have an impact on folks in the U.S.

Unless, of course, they were making international transactions that involved NatWest somewhere in the chain.


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