Citywire for Financial Professionals
Share this page:
Stay connected:

Citywire printed articles sponsored by:

View the article online at

Q&A: your rights following the Natwest and RBS banking disaster

Millions of RBS Group customers have been left unable to withdraw cash or make payments. If you've been affected here's what you should do...


by Victoria Bischoff on Jun 25, 2012 at 14:27

Q&A: your rights following the Natwest and RBS banking disaster

Millions of NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank customers are still experiencing problems receiving cash and making payments following a weekend of complete banking chaos.

Here we explain what exactly is going on and what to do if you think you've been affected.

What happened?

A ‘systems failure’ left millions of NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank customers unable to receive cash or make payments from Thursday through the weekend.

The RBS group said the technical fault – which was a result of a software upgrade gone wrong according to RBS boss Stephen Hester – meant that many customers’ balances were not properly updated, so money paid into accounts on Wednesday night did not show up on Thursday and likewise payments due to be made did not go through.

Unite union has raised concerns that the problem is a result of staffing challenges following some 30,000 job losses at the 82% taxpayer-owned bank and extensive outsourcing of functions. Hester, however, has rejected this claim and pledged that the incident will be taken into account when deciding management bonuses next year.

Is the problem fixed now?

Susan Allen, director of customer services for the RBS group, said yesterday she was ‘cautiously optimistic that RBS and Natwest customer account balances will be largely back to normal’ today.

However, while the bank claims the underlying problem has now been fixed, the group is still dealing with a huge backlog of payments which will take time to process – or as Allen put it: ‘The knock on effects of this technical failure mean there will be bumps in the road.’

This means that for many customers bill payments made between Wednesday 20 June and Monday 25 June will not yet have been processed, direct debits will not have gone through and cash, cheques and wages received via an electronic payment may not yet be in your account, Ulster Bank warned.  

Customers should be able to access their online services as normal, but may not be able to view an up to date balance. The RBS group has also stopped all SMS and email alerts due to be issued over the next few days until the problems have been resolved.

Who has been affected?

In short, the RBS group does not know the exact number of people affected by the computer failure.

RBS and Natwest have some 15 million account holders – of which 7.5 million are personal banking customers. Ulster Bank, meanwhile, has roughly another 2 million.

However, a spokesperson for RBS stressed that not everyone has been affected as some people did not make payments during this period or were fortunate enough to have a surplus of cash in their account to not notice the issue.

Sign in / register to view full article on one page

21 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Ian Lees

Jun 25, 2012 at 16:20

From Black Holes of RBS and Nastywest - to " bumps in the road ", according to Ms Susan Allen - an executive - sounds like the sound bite from our council on the state of repair of our roads. Even the sleeping policemen, built into the roads act like the regulatory authorities , lie there unaware of traffic, or the congestion it casues or the consequences to the car springs, or the passengers - asleep !

Given Edinburghs failures to install a simple tram line system - at a cost of Millions of pounds for the Scottish and English tax payer - yet the Americans built a whole railroad system in the eighteen hundreds - one does wonder why they place so many incompetant people in power at financial institutions. Their arrogance, demonstrates why RBS and its subsidiaries are so insolvent . Given RBS and their misleading advertising " Helpful banking ", and as they are taking the proverbial " P ", they should remove the " P " and change it to " Hel full ( fool ) banking ", which would be more accurate. High street money lenders - not bankers !

report this


Jun 25, 2012 at 16:43

If I were an RBS Group customer I would be most concerned that the system may not cope with this coming weekends high volume activity of processing on Monday 2nd July all payments due on 30th, 31st, 1st & 2nd. Thursday 28th sounds like a good day to deal with any banking you might need for the following week unless you get assurance that the system will cope!

report this

Anonymous 1 needed this 'off the record'

Jun 25, 2012 at 18:17

I am pop-eyed after reading this article. Who but a complete idiot would ordain that a major bank does an software change on any other day than "late Friday or saturday", so there would be a chance that if a bindles occurs, there will be a few quiet hours to do a revert or whatever? I introduced change control of that sort into a major UK university in the late '80s - and retired from it, with over 100 staff responsible to me, on a salary below £60k in 2001. SO: my message to you at Natwest (my bank) is "go pour petrol over yourselves and go into a lighted match flicking session. It is rubbish like you that is pouring this country down the pan.

report this

Anonymous 2 needed this 'off the record'

Jun 25, 2012 at 20:20

Much has been said about the customers of Natwest group. I'm not a customer but my employer is and my pay is still not in my account.(should have been in on Friday).

report this

TJ Holden

Jun 25, 2012 at 20:55

I am due to process my staffs wages on wednesday so they will be in the bank on wednesday, should i go ahead with this or should i pay them cash directly

report this


Jun 25, 2012 at 23:04

I find this situation all rather strange.

Is it not the case that under FSA rules the NatWest ( RBS) have to run a mirror image yet totally separate computer system, why don't they go onto that?

When the IRA bombed the NatWest Tower in the 1990s, the bank was up and running again in a day.

Please will someone say if I am wrong about the FSA rules.

On Friday morning I went to my NatWest in Central London and managed to withdraw a somewhat healthy sum in £50 notes, there were no problems whatsoever. I suppose that it is the smaller country branches that are suffering the most.

It would almost appear that there is some other factor that, as yet, has not been touched upon.

As a customer I am concerned.

Hester's words today amounted to very little other than he is sorry and that no customer will lose money as a consequence.

I think that he may well have said the same last week.

report this

Ian Lees

Jun 26, 2012 at 07:26

The Robbing bonk of scotland who controls its English subsidiaries - Nastywest and cooots - are now moving out of edinburgh with the remains of Financial Advisers to Switzerland where Adams and Co, Coutts etc., have it was confirmed by RBS they aim to profer advice - to avoid the FSA and the FCA. Given the Natwest three I assume are still in detention in the US of A are willing to breach Law anywhere in the World which it appears is company policy. Petrol and a lighted match might give some short term benefit - but the root cause of the deceit would remain. Owned by our current Government - it is interesting they will allow the removal of advice to Switzerland - or are they hog tied and unable to exercise any form of control.

report this

jon d

Jun 26, 2012 at 11:17

re stormdog's comments: a mirror system is used to reduce the impact of a hardware fail. A mirror runs the same software and uses the same data as the master, so in this RBS case, it would offer no protection - its data would be corrupted too. RBS must have failed to properly use a separate "test system" to test the new software before roll-out of the new software: doing this is considered to be standard good practice. They could also have used a test system running the -old- software -after- roll-out to confirm that the live transaction outcomes matched. I have read that the failed transactions were ocurring for 3 days after roll-out of the new software. It's not so much a glitch as a cock-up. It's not computers, it's people.

report this

Ian Lees

Jun 26, 2012 at 11:33

I tried to get £ 1,000 cash out of Nasty west in 2008 - it was NOT a computer at fault then ! it was Nastywest employees . After 30 minutes of arguing to get my own money I provided a cheque for £ 999-99 - which the failed management and unhepful service graciously " permitted " me to get my cash. The teller said " If I gave her one penny she could give me £ 1000-00 in cash rather than change. I withdrew my cash, terminated my bank account with RBS and the Nastywest - and get great service from Metro Bank - who want to assist their customers - they dont flog products to my clients either - they are most helpful with probate situations, and with commercial clients and our business clients and property developers . SIpp and SSAS can be used - where Scottish Widows and Standard Life refuse to provide any service.

report this


Jun 26, 2012 at 13:01

jon d,

What you have written is pretty close to unbelievable, it will be interesting to see if Hester has to go.

I just do not know what it is about the RBS.

It seems that they made one huge mistake and that was buying the NatWest in the first place.

The NatWest itself seems to be a jinxed amalgam of the the Westminster Bank and the National Provincial Bank.

Following that particular merger it has been fairly downhill all the way, before that both entities were doing reasonably ok - and so was the RBS.

report this

Sandra Bailey via mobile

Jun 26, 2012 at 18:01

Thinks this is a p@ss take it's ok saying that some people aren't affected by it but most people have been. I am with the RBS but it's think banking and I've a small child to care for I've been trying to ring all day today from just gone 8 this morning and when it finally rings through it's a stupid automated message and then hangs up on you. Surely it could've been sorted without much disruption.

report this

jess via mobile

Jun 26, 2012 at 20:02

I have 500 logged calls on my phone, trying to contact the rbs over my situation. I have been trying to get through for 2 days, lines are always engaged! I have been left with no money for food and my car insurance & rent have not been paid by bank. I am disgusted with the whole situation and will be looking at changing banks after this!

report this

Sam via mobile

Jun 26, 2012 at 21:01

@sandra. I'm the same in with think banking been trying to get in touch with them since Saturday just gives an engaged tone. I was advised this problem would be sorted no later than Tuesday however this is obviously just said to try and pacify us! Have you heard anything? Did you finally manage to get through?

report this


Jun 26, 2012 at 22:45

Sandra, Jess and Sam,

Have any of you actually been to your bank and attempted to get money and been refused?

report this

Ian Lees

Jun 27, 2012 at 08:17

I do not know about Sandra Jess or Sam . . .but I do know I tried to extract my money form Natwest - and was refused, time and time again by their female manager. Apparently men ( or women ) are less likely to argue with the tainted women of Nastywest. It is good to knwo I am not alone in trying to extract the money I loaned to Nastywest and RBS - to look after - and they have defaulted on their promises, contracts and deceived consumers . Where is the regulator ? i.e the banking regulator and the FSA.

report this

jess via mobile

Jun 27, 2012 at 08:45

I have been to the RBS 3 times now and refused access to my money. Because i am part of the thinkbanking group i was told to phone them instead! 5 days i have been trying to get through. My rent and car insurance are over due, i have no money to live on and the business i was in the process of starting up is set to fail because of this c**k up! So angry now !

report this


Jun 27, 2012 at 09:27


I just don't get it.

On Friday my branch, which has a very big commercial division attached to it, was dishing out brand new fifties as though they were confetti, I took sixty of them as a precaution.

Ever since then I have been reading horror stories here everywhere.

It just doesn't make sense.

Is it the case that you are all banking at smaller branches, possibly outside C. London and thus fairly low on the pecking order, or what?

Wasn't it Mrs. Helmsley who famously pronounced along the lines that the little people don't count?

Now we can understand what she was on about.

There again she ended up in jug surrounded by 'the little people' .

report this

Ian Lees

Jun 27, 2012 at 10:12

Stormdog - that is the price for printing money ! or as the MP's would like us to believe quantitive easing - in the life and times of Sir Walter Scott - the Edinburgh solicitor and his first life assrurance policy written by the Scottish Widows insurance company for Widows and Orphans at a time when Edinburgh was bankrupt . Some things never change ! Apparently Athens is following Edinburgh , of being dirty and bankrupt - and with the SNP on the horizon and the edinburgh tram - still in its shed it would require a lot of confidence - to entrust yourmoney with these broken banks. Still they have the facility to reposess your home or your buy to let or your other investments - having " recklessly l" ent against your assets - or was it . . . .by design ?

report this


Jun 27, 2012 at 11:37

Ian Lees,

All the world's a stage, and, all the men and women merely players.........

Let's face it, since ancient times bankers have been considered vermin.

At the centre of every banker's heart there lies a cold stone, it is the manifestation of this that we are all witnessing today.

I have over the years known a number of them, whether they be European, African, Middle Eastern, Chinese or American, they are all of the same piece.

Being a banker appears to drive away the better part of a man.

Perhaps as death approaches many will begin to revert to being themselves again, such is now happening to a relation of mine, sort of - from arrogant pig to a caring and charming man.

No help though to the past victims!

report this

Ian Lees

Jun 27, 2012 at 12:51

Stormdog , You are correct that it is so dissapointing that the victims of bankers, remain the victims of banks - and their employees rapcious personal greed. It is more dissapointing there is no ine willing to challenge these failures of men and women - who control your every day peasant ( e.g me ) by their refusiong us access to our own cash, or provide any reasonable or stable service or valuable service . . .instead ripping off consumers with the hook and sell strategy of money lenders . . . to attract consumers cash - then change the rules and effectively steal or restict consumers access to their own cash - when bankers claim consumers can obtain " instant access ". Try telling that to Graeme Beale the ceo ( and part time Visa salesman ) of Nationwide ! The Visa card is only a licence to a money lenders loan - repayable on demand. The Visa Advertising merchants would make you tbelieve it was a credible or valuable service. The reality is it is the bankers reckless lending strategy for them to apply their greedy charges, high levels of interest - for the benenfits of bonkers bankers.

report this


Jun 28, 2012 at 21:38

I cannot help but notice that Ulster Bank is being ignored by most of the commentators in all of this. Nat West and RBS appear to be getting back to normal, but Ulster certainly is not. My account is apparently overdrawn because there have been no salary lodgements for over a week. I am going on holiday soon and I wonder how I am going to get foreign currency. One thing is very clear. If I were to inconvenience the bank as I have been inconverienced, I would have serious bank charges levied.

report this

leave a comment

Please sign in here or register here to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.

Sponsored By:

Weekly email from The Lolly

Get simple, easy ways to make more from your money. Just enter your email address below

An error occured while subscribing your email. Please try again later.

Thank you for registering for your weekly newsletter from The Lolly.

Keep an eye out for us in your inbox, and please add to your safe senders list so we don't get junked.

Latest from Investment Basics

See all headlines

Sorry, this link is not
quite ready yet