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NatWest outage affects customers days after computer glitch

A week after a NatWest software glitch caused millions of payments to disappear, customers continue to be affected by the problem. The meltdown also impacted accounts at Ulster Bank and NatWest parent company Royal Bank of Scotland.

The outage was reportedly caused by a change to CA-7, a piece of software that handles batch processing for banking transactions that are then processed overnight, according to the Guardian. An update to CA-7 on 19 June triggered a corruption of the files that contain the data necessary to carry out the scheduled transactions.

The result was a three-day delay in the implementation of transactions, for which the bank, and its customers, may have to continue to play catch-up for a few weeks.

"We know this disruption was unacceptable and that many customers will still have questions and concerns," the bank said. "It is possible a small number of customers may experience delays as we return to a completely normal service. We will continue to extend our branch opening hours [until 29 June]."

RBS has stated that the CA-7 corruption has since been fixed, and that any overdraft fees or charges will be waived. The company has also said it would partner with credit agencies to ensure customers' credit scores do not suffer as a result of fallout from the glitch.

The fiasco has raised concerns over such issues as the outsourcing of IT jobs overseas and the apparent lack of a failproof software testing system.

Unite, the union representing RBS staff, has blamed layoffs and "offshoring" for the problem. "Following some 30,000 job losses at the bank and extensive outsourcing of functions, the union has grave concerns that staffing challenges are exacerbating the problems facing the bank," the group said.

RBS has denied the claim, promising that an investigation will take place after the issue has been resolved. The company has yet to disclose details about the nature of the outage, but rigorous testing is necessary in preventing such issues, some experts have said.

"This was not inevitable - you can always avoid problems like this if you test sufficiently," David Silverstone, delivery and solutions manager for a firm that provides automated testing software to a number of banks, told the Guardian. "But unless you keep an army of people who know exactly how the system works, there may be problems maintaining it."