On Friday, when RBS was trying to focus on its first quarterly profit since the third quarter of 2015 and Lloyds on the news that the taxpayer’s shareholding had fallen to less than 1%, both banks instead faced questions about their digital operations.
Customers of NatWest – part of RBS – complained on social media about their online banking, with some pointing out that it was payday. Some customers said their transfers were disappearing.
Lloyds admitted that customers of all its brands, which include Halifax and Bank of Scotland, were being affected by a slow online service.
Both banks apologised and RBS said it had resolved the issue by 3pm, ahead of Monday’s public holiday across the UK.
An RBS spokesperson said: “Our mobile apps and online banking are now running as normal and delayed payments are starting to credit customer accounts. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.” No customers would be left out of pocket, the bank added.
Lloyds, which has 25 million customers, said: “We are aware that some of our customers are experiencing issues logging on to internet banking across all Lloyds Banking Group brands. We are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
The problems did not appear to be preventing customers from using cash machines or completing card transactions in shops, as was the case with previous IT issues. After a more severe systems meltdown in 2012, RBS was fined £50m when customers were unable to access their cash.
The problems occurred after RBS reported profits for the first three months of 2017 of £259m, which increased its share price by 4.5%. However, the shares remained below the level at which taxpayers break even on their 43% stake, which the chancellor, Philip Hammond, has said will need to be sold at a loss.
In contrast, Hammond claimed last week that he has recouped the £20.3bn used to buy shares in Lloyds. The taxpayer stake, which was 43% at its peak, fell to 0.89% on Friday as the Treasury continued to sell off shares. The shareholding will decline to zero in coming weeks.
Ross McEwan, the RBS chief executive, who is cutting costs – 16,000 jobs have gone since last year – in an attempt to bolster profitability, said there was no need to apologise for the government’s inability to get its money back. The bailout was the “right thing”, he added.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010