Posted April 28, 2015 by Bex in Article

Who’s to blame for recent Online Banking failures?

It seems nothing is foolproof in the world of banking and this rings most true in online banking. With an increasing number of errors occurring across the board combined with higher customer expectations is it any wonder that the banking community is feeling the strain.

Solutions VP, Michael Allen, at application performance management company Dynatrace, opens up about this problem by explaining that, “Today’s customers expect 24/7 availability and failure to meet these expectations results in very public condemnation. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen from the frequency with which this type of outage is occurring, maintaining a flawless digital customers experience is becoming more and more difficult; especially in the banking industry. The problem is that many of the underlying systems in the financial services sector are based on aging 2- plus years old architectures that weren’t originally designed to integrate with the new technologies that have become the norm today. When routine updates are rolled out on services such as mobile banking applications, it can cause unforeseen problems.”

Just last week, both RBS and Natwest experienced mobile application failures, which lasted for two days and proved crippling for some of their customers. article-2289358-187E0CE3000005DC-912_634x356The banks claim the failure was down to a routine upgrade to their online services and tried to placate customers with the news that “we’re investigating this [problem] and we are working to get it resolved as quickly as possible. In the meantime our customers can visit one of our branches, use online banking or call us via telephone banking as normal. Unfortunately for them, many of their customers took to Twitter to complain and it wasn’t long before the social media site was jammed with negative feedback.

In another instance, one Natwest customer found his bank account had been credited with £1.25 million in error. When Kieran McKeefery logged on to his online account as usual he was shocked to discover he was now a millionaire. It took him ten days to decide what to do about it and opting to go for ‘honesty is the best policy’ he contacted Natwest. The payment was marked on McKeefery’s statement as a ‘CHAPS Payment’ (Clearing House Automated Payment System) and Natwest were able to tell him that the same day payment had come from a massive investment company and as such could not be dealt with by themselves, but would need to be taken back by the company’s own bank. Natwest alerted the payee’s bank, who eventually sorted out the return of the money, but only after interest of £204 had been earnt in McKeefery’s account.

angry-money-manIn April this year, Lloyds was faced with the task of having to explain to their customers that the problems occurring to their online banking was not an April Fool. Although the problem was rectified after a few hours, it still caused much disruption to their UK customers.

“Our normal banking service was interrupted for a short time today, this is now resolved. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused our customers.”

According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), in the second half of 2014 banks and other financial institutions received 2,183,540 complaints from customers. So, what can you do to safeguard yourself as much as possible against any potential errors your bank may make? Knowledge and organisation is key. Keep account information, phone numbers, password and PIN numbers in a safe place, ideally in a home safe or somewhere as equally secure. Be aware of when any bills or direct debits etc are due to come out of your account.  It makes sense to keep a spreadsheet of when a payment is due out, how much it is for and who it is for and likewise keep a record of any payments that are regularly paid into your account. Even if these payments are set up to go out automatically, by keeping a track of them you will notice something irregular a lot sooner should an error occur.