Treasury committee chair turns up pressure on banks over IT failures

Andrew Tyrie
Andrew Tyrie

Andrew Tyrie MP, the chair of the House of Commons treasury committee, has called on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) to address persistent failings of IT systems throughout the banking sector.

Mr Tyrie said millions of bank customers are still being exposed to uncertainty, “disruption” and “distress”, remained “more exposed than necessary” to the risks of IT failures and were ultimately left “paying the price”.

Tyrie’s comments mark a renewal of his targeting of banks over the issue after he wrote to regulators in January after high-profile IT bungles at Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC.

HSBC customers endured two days of online banking glitches in January, following just a month after nearly 8,000 RBS customers were blocked from trying to retrieve cash from old bank accounts.

The FCA and PRA have carried out two exercises to look at IT resilience in the largest retail banks and said in March they were “undertaking further work” to tackle IT failures in the banking sector.

However, in his latest intervention, Mr Tyrie said he needed assurances that City regulators were “getting on with it”.

He said: “Banks continue to suffer failures and breaches of their IT systems, exposing millions of customers to uncertainty, disruption and sometimes distress.

“We can’t carry on like this. Responsibility for sound IT systems is often lacking at the highest levels of management, and ultimately customers pay the price.”

Mr Tyrie added: “Customers remain more exposed than necessary to the risks of IT failures, including delays in paying bills and an inability to obtain access to their own money.

“The proliferation of remote and online banking, including the use of biometric data for customer identification, may also be increasing the risk of unauthorised access to their accounts. A great deal of work still needs to be done.”

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