The parties got off on the wrong foot on New Year’s Eve for many Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Halifax customers, who found they were unable to withdraw cash from bank machines or transfer money using internet banking. Perhaps most scarily, some customers complained that their accounts were wrongly showing a balance of zero.
The problems began at around 4pm. Halifax and Bank of Scotland are both part of the Lloyds banking group, which has 22 million current account customers and received a £20 billion bailout during the financial crisis.
Commenting on the outage – which Lloyds claims was fixed within an hour – Michael Allen, director of Application Performance Management for Compuware, said: "The LloydsTSB problem on new year’s eve just shows the impact IT has on all of our lives, which are now so much more digital than they were ten years ago. The consumer is touching and using IT every few minutes, and so when it goes wrong there is a much bigger impact on them and as a result the reputation of the offending organisation."
The IT systems at some of Britain’s largest banks have been facing scrutiny since millions of Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest customers were locked out of their accounts due to a technical problem in June.
Lloyds has not explained what caused the most recent outage, a spokesman simply saying, "For a short period earlier this afternoon some customers experienced intermittent problems with certain functionalities of viewing their current account balances and payment transactions. We were able to quickly identify the root cause and all services were fully restored within the hour. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers."
Lloyds said it has set aside £125 million to compensate frustrated customers.
Compuware’s Allen added that, "The problem is that IT systems have become vastly more complex. Delivering money at a cashpoint could be reliant on 20 different IT systems. Even if a small change is made to one of these systems, it can cause major problems for the whole banking service. We will continue to see problems like this happening unless performance and quality is engineered in IT applications while architecting, developing and testing new systems. Even then, problems can and will occur and so it’s equally important companies have the ability to react and solve problems in minutes, not hours’."