MORE than 700 house sales were delayed by a day or more when the Bank of England’s Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) payments system ground to a halt in October 2014, it said yesterday.
It apologised for the problems, and has promised to improve the contingency plans in case it happens again.
The RTGS system broke when one bank was added to the system and another deleted in an unusual switch. As a result, a large portion of the £290bn of transactions submitted to the system were delayed, though all were settled by the end of an extended set of opening hours.
An investigation by Deloitte found this resulted in a glitch which restarted the settlement process, with the result that the system – and the authorities – could not tell which payments had been processed and which had not.
The most high-profile impact came in housing – large transactions like house purchases could not be processed.
In future, the Bank said, it will work to use the alternative MIRS payments system to keep funds moving.
Meanwhile, the new Payments Regulator gave more details on its upcoming review into the ownership and competitiveness of infrastructure. Small banks in particular are concerned that the current setup is anti-competitive as they have to pay their bigger rivals for access to the system.