RBS says UK – not Indian – IT staff caused outage

RBS says UK – not Indian – IT staff caused outage

CEO Stephen Hester forced to respond to MPs’ request for more information

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The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has told MPs that its Edinburgh-based IT staff were responsible for the systems failure that affected millions of customers for more than a week last month.

It contradicts media reports that claimed a junior IT worker based in India made the error that led to the IT problem that affected 17 million customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank.

An upgrade made to batch processing software CA 7 from CA Technologies is believed to be at the heart of the failure, and RBS was given until the end of last week to provide a preliminary explanation of the problems to the Treasury Select Committee.

In his letter to Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the committee, Stephen Hester wrote: “The initial reviews we have carried out indicate that the problem was created when maintenance on systems, which are managed and operated by our team in Edinburgh, caused an error in our batch scheduler.

“This error caused the automated batch processing to fail on the night of Tuesday 19 June. The knock-on effects were substantial and required significant manual interventions from our team, compounded because the team could not access the record of transactions that had been processed up to the point of failure.

“The need to first establish at what point processing had stopped delayed subsequent batches and created a substantial backlog.”

Although banking services have returned to normal for RBS and NatWest customers, Hester acknowledged that Ulster Bank customers are still suffering from the aftermath of the failure, because the Irish bank’s systems are “in part” dependent on NatWest systems.

In a statement today, RBS cited the processing backlog as the reason for the delay in resolving the problem.

“In order to be able to recommence automated batch processing and to move towards a normal state, the batches had to be brought back into sequence.

“Unfortunately for our customers in Ireland, Ulster Bank payments follow in sequence after those of NatWest and RBS. This is because of the way the technology was set up at the time the three banks were integrated,” the company said.

It added: “It in no way reflects the priority we attach to our Ulster Bank customers.”

RBS has proposed to carry out a full investigation, overseen by independent experts, into the causes of the problem “once the critical system recovery tasks are completed”, and report the findings “in due course”.

Now read: RBS IT failure: A result of creaking mainframes, offshoring or poor governance?



  • Techraptor Gremlins running an intensive care unit
  • UK IT professsional If RBS Edinburgh site looks anything like similar sites around the UK by Barclays and Lloyds comprised of 75-80 Indian workers on headsets instructing the offshore component of their global delivery model chances are an Indian worker made the critical error - even if that worker was located in EdinburghEven on the off-chance a third-world worker was not responsible extremely unlikely its a pretty safe bet the global delivery model was responsible for the pathetic recovery that took place or rather is still in progress a full 2 weeks on Bury the global delivery model and save the untold fortunes that tried so hard - and have consistantly failed - to make it work
  • Korgesquire This is a fairy story which bears no relation to reality
  • Korgesquire It wasnt Ca7 It was autosys
  • hugh fowler The who did what and where blame storming is all a bit irrelevant to the RBSNatWestUlster Bank customers who just want the bank to get the basic account handling of their money correctBTW Hester letter mentions that the IT team wherever they were based lost access to the record of transactions which rather suggests that this is is more than a simple failed batch scheduler software upgrade Anyway his response was just a preliminary answer to the Treasury Committee who have asked for a lot more information about what exactly went wrongGiven that RBS are also involved in the LIBOR fixing scandal RBS chiefs and their staff may also have other things to worry about soon as some of them may face huge compensation claims and possible criminal prosecution in the US By the time it is all finished there may not be much of a bank left for those staff in Edinburgh and India to screw up
  • Nit Unless you dont understand the term operated it mean teams in Edinburgh Is it impossible to believe IT people in UK can make mistakes I personally know about system created in Edinburgh which is causing nightmares to usIt is quite easy to blame some junior in India for mess If that is the case then people in UK at RBS should resign en-mass to letting a junior access to their production systemNowhere in the world INCLUDING India does one allow a junior IT guys access to production systems Definetly not a place like RBS Payment processing systems But alas given the fact that Brits believe in this junior story you guys deserve the mess you are in
  • Chris Harris maintenance on systems which are managed and operated by our team in Edinburgh is not quite the same as saying the maintenance was done in Edinburgh
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