BBC News: More bank computer chaos expected

Nick Hammond, WWT's lead advisor in financial services, comments on the recent computer chaos at TSB and the challenges banks are facing.

Apr 27, 2018 2 minute read

Posted by BBC News on April 27, 2018:

This week's computer chaos at TSB is unlikely to be the last time millions of people face online banking problems.

In recent years computer systems at NatWest, RBS, HSBC, Ulster Bank have all gone into major meltdowns.

Now IT experts warn that legacy systems and quick fixes have left most main banks at risk of outages.

Former banker Philip Augar told the BBC: "Bank systems have got sticking plaster all over them".

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Mr Augar, a former non-executive director at TSB, warned: "There's need for an absolutely radical overhaul. They all have to do it."

Complex systems.

With millions of us now reliant on online banking, it appears that consumers need to have a back-up plan - for example, by opening up a second bank account - to be able to cope with any future problems.

That's especially true as banks have been busy closing thousands of branches, leaving many of us with no local bank manager to turn to.

Nick Hammond, ex-global head of networks at Barclays and now lead adviser for financial services at World Wide Technology, said: "The crisis at TSB provides a great case study for the problems presented by the sheer complexity of many banking IT systems, and especially, the difficulty involved in changing them."

The IT systems at traditional banks have grown into "complex architectures that have organically grown after decades of successive development and component re-platforming", he explained.

It means that carrying out any kind of upgrade or transition can be extremely difficult.

Lev Lesokhin, an analyst at CAST, a company that measures and analyses software to help banks, pointed out: "Complex IT systems are very unstable when upgraded.

"Banks should identify software issues and agree on a migration plan before they undergo digital transformation projects, otherwise, their customers will suffer."

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