RBS Payment Failure Sparked by ‘Technical Fault,’ McNamara Says

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s computer system failed while handling a file from another company, Chief Administrative Officer Simon McNamara said.

“We ended up with a technical fault that meant we couldn’t ingest a file we were taking in from a third-party provider, a payments file,” he said in a webcast on Thursday without providing further details. “Nobody is more disappointed than myself.”

RBS notified the U.K.’s markets watchdog on Wednesday after 600,000 credit and direct-debit transactions weren’t applied to customers’ accounts. It came seven months after the Edinburgh-based bank was fined 56 million pounds ($89 million) for the 2012 collapse of its computer system, which left millions of people without access to their accounts for weeks.

“It was very different to last time,” McNamara said. “We didn’t have the benefit of some of the tools we have now. It’s not a reflection of change and it’s not a reflection of legacy.”

The root of the failure “could have happened in something that was brand new as easy as it could’ve happened in something that was old,” he said.

RBS is spending 150 million pounds a year to improve the resilience of its computer systems and investing in new technology, such as fingerprint scanning, to offer customers access to banking services.

The bank is “close” to being able to apply delayed payments back to customer accounts, according to McNamara. “The incident this week demonstrates there is more to do. I cannot guarantee, this is technology, it is complex and it will fail.”

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