It's OK – this was an entirely NEW type of cockup, says RBS

Banks' 600,000 missing transactions unrelated to 2012 mega-snafu

The NatWest and RBS IT cock-up that caused 600,000 transactions to go missing this week was entirely unrelated to the 2012 mega IT cock-up, the bank has said in an not-too-reassuring update.

In a webcast about the Royal Bank of Scotland's IT strategy today, Simon McNamara, chief administrative officer, said: "It is different to last time. Both in terms of [the] initiation and then in terms of resolution."

In 2012, an IT meltdown was caused by a failure in a piece of batch scheduling software, which was used to process routine jobs. The outage caused chaos for 6.5 million customers.

The bank was subsequently whacked with a £56m fine and reprimanded for nearly crashing the country's entire financial system.

"In 2012 we had a big incident over multiple days. That affected all payments across all brands. It was a reflection of the overnight process, and complexity of managing the incident," McNamara said. "We had an eight-hour window for a batch. Once you fall a day behind it's about squeezing [outstanding transactions] into a new window," he said.

According to McNamara the problem this week was not a reflection of change or legacy. "[It was] a technology failure that could have happened in something new as well as old," he said.

He added that the root cause has now been fixed. However, the bank is still working to restore outstanding transactions.

"A technology fault meant we could not ingest a file from a third-party provider," he said, before adding that the overnight process had been tightened up to minimise failures.

"We would love to be able to say will never have a technology failure again," he said. "But it is not feasible to run a 100 per cent faultless system."

The bank processes 13 million transactions per day and has committed a further IT investment of £150m per year as part of its "transformation programme".

A spokeswoman from the Prudential Regulation Authority said yesterday: "We are in contact with RBS regarding their recent IT issue. We will be working closely with RBS as it resolves the problem."

RBS isn't the only bank with technology problems. The Co-op has also been slapped for its creaking infrastructure, which the Financial Conduct Authority has warned is in breach of regulations. ®

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