Long-suffering bank customers are facing an average of 10 digital banking shutdowns a month, according to new figures. UK banks began publishing details of the number of operational and security incidents that occur last year.

The latest data analysed by the BBC reveals that the major banks typically suffer more than 10 outages a month. Barclays reported the most problems in the past year but RBS/NatWest had the most in the past three months.

Barclays reported 33 incidents in the 12 months to the end of June this year, higher than NatWest which had 25 and Lloyds Bank, which had 23.

A Barclays spokesperson told the BBC: “Our systems are designed to ensure continuity of service for customers in the event of an incident, with a range of channels available to customers.

“We have seen a consistent reduction in our operational and security incidents throughout the course of the last year.”

In the three months to the end of June RBS and NatWest topped the table with seven incidents reported, followed by HSBC with five.

An RBS spokesperson said: “Our incident volumes continue to decrease year on year. We have invested significantly in our systems to help keep our customers safe and secure.

“However, we are not complacent and we will continue working to improve our service to minimise any incidents of disruption for customers.”

Credit card customers become latest victims

On Tuesday credit card customers of RBS became the latest victims of an IT meltdown which it blamed on “a third party service provider”.

They were unable to see their information online or on their phones and contacting the bank’s call centre didn’t help as workers there had no access to information and so couldn’t help worried customers.

The bank said in a statement: “We apologise to any customers impacted and are working with the third party provider to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. Customers can continue to use their credit cards as usual and no customer will be left out of pocket.”

Meanwhile Barclaycard has warned customers won’t be able to use their app, online or telephone services overnight from 11.30pm on Thursday 22 August until 6am on Friday 23 August while the bank updates its system.

The number of bank outages

Figures relate to the 12 months between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019 (figures in brackets for the 3 months between 1 April and 30 June 2019)

  • Barclays 33 (4)
  • NatWest 25 (7)
  • Lloyds Bank 23 (2)
  • RBS 22 (7)
  • Santander 21 (4)
  • Bank of Scotland/Halifax 19 (2)
  • HSBC 14 (5)
  • TSB 12 (1)
  • Metro Bank 8 (3)
  • Co-operative Bank 7 (1)
  • Virgin Money 5 (3)
  • Nationwide 5 (0)

Banking experience

Since 2018 banks are required by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to publish information about the number of major operational and security incidents they have experienced.

“It is now a year since we required firms to start publishing this data, providing people with the tools to work out how easily they can carry out day to day banking activities, as well as the reliability of the service they receive,” said Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA.

“The information published should increase the incentive for firms to offer better service, helping consumers to get the most out of their banking experience.”

UK Finance, the organisation that represents the banking industry, said its members “invest billions to ensure systems, human and digital, are robust and secure”.

“Operational resilience is crucial in a modern financial system and is a key priority for the industry. When incidents do occur, firms work around the clock to minimise disruption and get services back up and running as quickly as possible,” a spokesman said.


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