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Thousands Of RBS, Natwest, Barclays Customers Hit By Mobile Banking App Outage

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Customers left unable to access mobile accounts due to outage caused by major traffic surge

Customers at three of Britain’s largest banks where left unable to check their accounts earlier today after a major surge in traffic caused several mobile banking apps to fail.

Users of mobile apps from NatWest, Barclays and RBS were left unable to log on to their accounts from around 7am till mid-afternoon following what the latter called a “record” number of people trying to access mobile banking.

The outage came as customers flocked to check their balances on the last day of the month, which is typically payday for many. Finding themselves locked out, the disappointed customers went off to Twitter to vent their frustrations.

bank security - ShutterStock - © Gena96Locked out

RBS apologised to customers on Twitter, saying that “high traffic” meant some customers could not log in.

NatWest took to its Twitter feed to apologise to customers, saying, “We’re aware of some issues on our Mobile Banking service and are working hard to fix them. Sorry and thanks for your patience.”

“We are currently experiencing record usage of our mobile banking app,” it continued. “Over 5,500 customers are logging on every minute.”

Barclays also said it was “urgently” investigating problems with people trying to get into its mobile banking app.

A spokeswoman for the bank said that all Barclays’ other services are working as normal.

NatWest, which is owned by RBS, has an unfortunate history of technological security issues. Last December, the bank’s website was hit by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, preventing some users from properly accessing it. In the same week, RBS suffered an extensive systems failure which saw millions of customers unable to access their money.

And in March 2013, NatWest suffered an IT failure which meant users were unable to withdraw their own funds from cash machines. Payments from bank accounts were also refused, and online and telephone banking was also hit.

The outage comes a few days after RBS chairman Ross Mr McEwan praised the company’s banking app, hailing it for taking the strain of increased traffic following a 30 percent decline in branch usage over the last three years.

Mr McEwan said: ‘Our busiest branch in 2014 is the 7:01 from Reading to Paddington – over 167,000 of our customers use our Mobile Banking app between 7am and 8am on their commute to work every day.’

“High demand for banking services on payday should be a predictable scenario for a bank,” Michael Allen, director of APM at Compuware said of today’s news. “Today’s customers expect 24/7 availability, and failure to meet these expectations results in very public condemnation – as we can see from the flurry of angry Tweets. The fact that Barclays, RBS and Santander are all experiencing problems shows this isn’t an isolated problem, but one the industry as a whole is facing.”

“As banks increasingly integrate new technologies into their legacy systems it certainly creates an added layer of complexity, but this is not an excuse for slow systems or poor user experience. For customer loyalty and satisfaction to grow, IT must act before business suffers and customers are affected. Banks need to get a handle on this situation; otherwise, we will see more failures and more unhappy customers.”

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