The issue is thought to have affected around 24 million customers at RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank, stopping them from buying online or in store yesterday (2 December) between 6.30pm and 9.30pm. The outage also affected the banks’ websites and smartphone apps.
The problems occurred on the day, dubbed “Cyber Monday”, when retailers including John Lewis and Amazon expected to experience their busiest period for internet sales in the run-up to Christmas. Cyber Monday sees retailers offer a range of discounts to kickstart Christmas sales.
Visa estimated that ecommerce sales would top £450m yesterday, up 16 per cent year on year. However, the RBS glitch is likely to have hit those figures.
The bank has promised that it will compensate customers left “out of pocket”. Susan Allen, RBS director of customer relations, told the BBC that includes anyone that tried to buy something on offer and were unable to do so.
“We would like to apologise to our customers. If anyone has been left out of pocket as a result of these systems problems, we will put this right,” the bank said in a statement.
The outage follows a similar issue last year, when a software glitch caused by a failed systems update left NatWest customers unable to access their accounts for a number of days. The bank paid out £125m in compensation and said it has since improved services.
The cause of the most recent problem is not known but RBS said it is working through a “detailed analysis” of what happened.