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RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers hit by tech glitch

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Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers have lost access to online banking services – with many locked out of their accounts.

The problem was initially thought to be a glitch affecting only NatWest customers, but it later emerged that there were issues across the RBS banking group.

Combined, the three brands have about eight million online and mobile customers.

RBS Group says customers can still use telephone banking, and access to high street ATMs is unaffected.

Chief executive Ross McEwan said: “We are still working through what the issue is – absolute apologies to customers.”

He said changes being made to accounts “on an ongoing basis” may be one possible explanation for the outage.

“The team are working very hard to get it back up for our customers… every so often we do have difficulties,” he told LBC.

Mr McEwan insisted that the number of such incidents has “dropped dramatically” from 300 in 2014 to 20 last year, and that his team was working “flat out”.

He said he would not make any promises about how quickly the service would be back, adding: “We feel the pain of our customers every time this happens.

“It is up 99 point something per cent of the time and it is used more than ever.”

The glitch comes a day after some Barclays customers were left struggling to log into their accounts due to a technical problem.

The Co-operative Bank and Cashplus also suffered outages this week.

The pressure on retail banks to bolster their technology infrastructure has been heightened in recent years as they have proceeded with cutting down on high street branches, making customers increasingly reliant on digital services to manage their finances.

The consequences of technical hitches have become more severe as a result.

Earlier this year, a major outage at mid-sized lender TSB, owned by Spain’s Sabadell, left thousands of customers
unable to access their money or make vital payments for long periods.

The bank’s most recent tech meltdown last month ended in the departure of its chief executive Paul Pester, after seven years in the role.

In July, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority set a deadline of 5 October for British banks to explain how they can avoid damaging IT breakdowns and respond to the growing threat of cyber attacks.

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