MSE News

MPs launch inquiry into banking IT failures

An influential group of MPs has launched an inquiry into IT failures at financial institutions, after a series of major outages this year at several different banks.

TSB customers faced two months of chaos earlier this year after an upgrade to the bank's IT systems caused ongoing disruption to its online and mobile banking services.

More recently, September saw an online and telephone banking outage at Barclays, as well as customers being locked out of online and mobile banking at NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank. The Visa card network also experienced an outage in June, which left it struggling to process payments for several hours.

The Treasury Committee – which is made up of MPs from different political parties and examines the policies and actions of the Treasury and HMRC as well as public financial bodies such as the Bank of England – will investigate the causes of IT failures and whether they can be prevented.

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What is being investigated?

The Treasury Committee will investigate several issues around banking IT failures:

  • Common causes of IT failures.
  • How consumers are affected by the failures.
  • Whether banks are able to prevent IT disruption, and fix issues if they do occur.
  • Whether regulators such as the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England are able to hold institutions to account after IT failures.

What does the committee say?

Treasury Committee chair Nicky Morgan MP said: "The number of IT failures at other financial institutions in recent years is astonishing.

"Since becoming chair of the committee 16 months ago, there have been problems at Equifax, TSB, Visa, Barclays, Cashplus and RBS, to name a few.

"Millions of customers have been affected by the uncertainty and disruption caused by failures of banking IT systems. Measly apologies and hollow words from financial services institutions will not suffice when consumers aren't able to access their own money and face delays in paying bills."

She added that as "bank branches close and customers are ushered towards online services, the availability of those services is vital".