Royal Bank of Scotland vowed there would be no repeat of a system crash two years ago that left millions of customers unable to make or receive payments, after it was fined £56m(€70m) by British regulators yesterday.
The 2012 outage, caused by a botched software upgrade, affected 6.5 million customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank in Britain for several weeks and raised questions about the resilience of the group’s technology. Some industry sources say RBS’s systems are outdated and made up of a complex patchwork of systems after dozens of acquisitions. To prevent a recurrence of the problems, RBS has said it will invest an extra £750m by the end of 2015 to enhance the security and resilience of its IT systems. Chief administration officer Simon McNamara said that more than £500m of that investment had already been invested to improve the bank’s systems. “I can pretty much guarantee that that incident will not happen again because of the actions we’ve taken,” he said.
The penalties comprised a £42m fine from the Financial Conduct Authority and a £14m fine from the Prudential Regulation Authority.
The two regulators conducted a joint investigation into the matter, concluding that RBS’s systems and controls had been inadequate. Prudential chief executive Andrew Bailey said the incident “revealed a very poor legacy of IT resilience and inadequate management of IT risks”.
“It is crucial that RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank fix the underlying problems that have been identified to avoid threatening the safety and soundness of the banks,” he said. The group suffered a further technology outage in December last year, which left more than 1 million customers unable to withdraw cash or pay for goods.
Following that episode, chief executive Ross McEwan admitted that RBS — which is 80%-owned by the British government — had neglected its technology for decades. The 2012 incident cost it £175m in compensation for customers and payments to staff after the bank opened branches for longer in response. The bank said £6m was taken off its wage bill following the incident as a result of some staff forfeiting pay and bonuses.