Friday 29 November 2019 11:35 am

Natwest and RBS down: Outages hit online banking and mobile apps on Black Friday

RBS and Natwest’s mobile apps and online banking services suffered intermittent problems today, with customers taking to Twitter to complain.

“Our Online Banking, mobile app and Bankline are currently facing intermittent problems,” Natwest told customers on Twitter.

“We’re working hard getting them back up and running smoothly for you. We’ll post an update when we have more information. And remember to contact us if you need urgent help.”

Read more: TSB branch closures: Which towns and cities are affected?

RBS, which owns Natwest, repeated the statement on its own social media account:

But customers branded the downtime a “PR fail” and an “epic fail”, accusing the banks of failing to acknowledge the extent of the issue beyond saying there are reports of issues.

Media consultant and customer Jane Symons said: “As @NatWest_Help is also down it looks like there’s a major problem, at least have the honesty to admit it’s more than ‘reports of issues’ #prfail.”

Downdetector, a site that tracks social media complaints about downtime, reported thousands of complaints at around 9.30am after problems began at around 8.50am.

Almost 80 per cent of complaints concerned Natwest’s online banking service, with 19 per cent complaining about mobile banking.

The digital difficulties left some Natwest customers unable to make payments online on Black Friday, one of the biggest retail days of the year.

“Month end, payments to make, no online banking!” one customer, Sally Taylor, said.

Customer Dan Harrison added: “Someone high up in the organisation needs a serious butt kicking.

“How can they not prepare for the biggest spending day of the year? Where is the provision for increased server performance etc. They are currently more bothered with the style and positioning of the login button (which by the way is actually less user-friendly now) than making sure the system works consistently. Epic fail.”

The problems affected small business owners too, with Sallyanne tweeting: “Cannot get back into online banking after almosy 2 hours now. Month end and 27 staff to pay today. Not good enough Natwest.”

Natwest told angry customers: “We’re currently looking in to reports of issues with some of our services. We will provide an update when we have more information.”

Downdetector’s outage map showed that the issue was widespread across the south of England and the Midlands.

Areas as far flung as London, Plymouth, Manchester and Nottingham were hit worst by the Natwest and RBS down time.

Aside from the outages landing on Black Friday, they are especially poor timed for RBS.

The bank has just launched its digital only bank, Bo, as a challenger to the likes of fintech banks Monzo and Revolut.

Read more: RBS launches digital bank Bo to take on fintech Monzo

Chief executive Mark Baillie said at Bo’s launch that it would sit on “a separate cloud-based technology” from RBS and Natwest.

The latest outage, however, follows hot on the heels of consumer magazine Which naming RBS the joint-worst bank for outages in a recent survey.

The magazine found that RBS suffered 18 IT outages from October 2018 to September 2019.

A recent review of banking outages said the rate of IT failures at high street banks was “unacceptable”.

More to follow.