Online banking failures at Halifax and Barclays
Barclays, Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers reported problems checking their balances and transferring funds online on Monday 4 January.
Initially banks put the New Year problems down to the high volume of people checking their accounts on the first working day after the festive break.
A spokesperson for HBOS told journalists that anyone who receives a bank charge as a direct result of being unable to log on and transfer money would have any refund request dealt with on a ‘case by case’ basis, but branch and telephone services remained unaffected.
Barclays offered a similar assurance to clients, with a spokesperson advising yesterday afternoon: “We’ve restarted our servers and it appears response times are returning to normal”.
According to TECH.BLORGE blogger John Lister, however, the problems affecting banking systems at the beginning of the month might not be down to high volumes, but a variant on that old gremlin, the Y2K bug.
Lister reported a series of glitches that affected mobile phones, spam filtering services and a credit card processing system operated by the Bank of Queensland. When the bank computer’s timeclock hit midnight on 1 January, it switched years to 2016 rather than 2010 and promptly started refusing payments made on cards it deemed had expired.
According to programming experts, the 16-digit (1-9, then A-F) heximadecimal counting system used by many computers might have ignored the first two numerals in the century date, and interpreted “10” as “16”.
None of the UK banks commented further on the sources of their problems.