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UK payments infrastructure collapses in 'longest shutdown in history'

Bank of England (BoE) Governor Mark Carney has launched an investigation after the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) payment system went down for around ten hours.

The system has been described as a “key pillar” of UK payments infrastructure – it processes over £277bn a day and its downtime delayed hundreds of billions worth of deals.

According to a BoE statement, a review will be launched to investigate the causes of the incident, the effectiveness of the response and lessons learned for future contingency plans.

Findings of the investigation will be presented at Court and a full report and response will then be published.

“The appointment of an independent reviewer to get to the bottom of such a serious episode as this is appropriate,” claimed Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee.

“The Treasury Committee may want to meet the independent reviewer when he or she has been identified,” he added.

After RTGS went down, the system was kept open for four hours after usual closing time to deal with the backlog of payments that had arisen.

During the incident, the system had to be taken offline completely which in turn led to the breakdown of the Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS) – another crucial part of the UK payments infrastructure.

“Longest Shutdown In History”

According to the UK press, the ten-hour outage of RTGS is the longest every shutdown in the history of the system which was introduced in 1996 to minimise the risk of banks receiving payments late.

“The Bank apologises for any problems caused by the delays to the settlements of payments today and has launched a thorough, independent review of the incident,” claimed a BoE statement last night.