Ulster Bank debacle – a timeline

4 Jul 2012

A timeline of events surrounding the technical issues and their aftermath at Ulster Bank these past two weeks in Ireland.

19 June: The automated procedure that processes payments in batches into Ulster Bank accounts goes wrong this evening. About 100,00 customers are affected by the disruption to salary transfers, direct debits and social welfare payments, causing a one-day delay in processing certain payments to bank accounts.

22 June: Ulster Bank opens 78 of its branches until 7pm in cities and major towns across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in order to help customers access their funds. The bank’s help desk is also open at 1800 205 100 and at +353 9156 2910 for people calling from abroad.

25 June: Ulster Bank says clearing the backlog of payments is taking longer than expected and may not be resolved until the end of the week. It also says a corrupted software upgrade to the payment-processing system caused the original technical problem. The bank apologises to customers and adds if they experience bank charges as a result of this issue they will be refunded.

26 June: Ulster Bank’s parent company Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) says customers will have to wait until early next week for normal service to be restored. Ulster Bank says it will open about 50 of its branches from 9.30am-7pm for the rest of the week.

27 June: RBS is in discussions about taking legal action against US enterprise software giant CA because of the computer update that caused the massive backlog. The problem is understood to have been caused by an update to a CA system called CA-7.

29 June: Ulster Bank announces it is opening some of its branches this weekend and extending their hours of operation to continue to help customers. The bank still expects normal service to be restored early next week. Some customers who are paid on a weekly basis have now not received their pay for the second week in a row.

2 July: Reports quote Ulster Bank as having said it will carry out a full and detailed investigation into the causes of the problem, overseen by independent experts, once the critical system recovery tasks are completed and the bank will continue to liaise closely with regulators.

3 July: Ulster Bank customers reveal on Twitter they are thinking about closing their accounts and Philip Hampton, the chairman of RBS says the technical problems are likely to continue into next week. There are fears that some 48,000 monthly social welfare payments due to be paid to Ulster Bank customers today will cause further delays. The bank says many customers should see an improved position on their accounts today, with account transactions continuing to update.

4 July: Representatives of the Central Bank, including the Director of Consumer Protection Bernard Sheridan, are to appear before the Oireachtas Finance Committee.

5 July: Members of Ulster Bank’s management are due to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Finance Committee to answer questions about the technical problems.

Ulster Bank image by Brendan Howard/Shutterstock.com via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic