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RBS Group Banking Nightmare Beginning to End

Ulster Bank’s problems likely to last the week

3 min read
RBS Group Banking Nightmare Beginning to End

The computer problems plaguingRBS Group banks including NatWest, Northern Ireland’s Ulster Bank, and the Royal Bank of Scotland are finally ending, according to news reports today. NatWest is saying that the technical issues have been resolved and that most bank accounts should be updated and back to normal by the end of the day on Monday, although there may still be “bumps in the road.”  The same appears to be true for RBS account holders. However, the problems at Ulster Bank will likely continue for the remainder of the week, the BBC reports.

According to the Guardian, the computer problems, which have caused the longest and worst bank-related IT outage in UK history, were traced to a software update to RBS’s payment processing system that became corrupted. The software problem erupted last Tuesday night when millions of  bank accounts across all three banks failed to be updated. However, according to this story at Computing.co.uk, the software glitch actually dates back to a week ago Friday. It may take some time before the true facts of the matter come to light, since the RBS Group is refusing to publicly discuss the exact cause of its computer woes.

NatWest, which last year saw complaints about its service rise 75 percent over the previous year, certainty hasn’t helped itself during its crisis. While the bank's CEO apologized to the its customers for “the inconvenience" to "some customers," Steven Hester waited a long time before making an appearance in public. The bank, which has been saying that the computer problems would not cost its customers anything out of pocket, also didn’t win any friends by urging customers with account problems to call its costly toll number for help. When questioned about it, the bank said that customers could later make a claim to try to get reimbursed for the cost of the call, although it didn’t tell its customers how to make such a claim.

NatWest also told customers of other banks that have been affected by the glitch to straighten out any problems they were having with their own bank. The UK Financial Services Authority "urged other banks to be 'lenient' with their own customers if they missed payments because transfers from RBS accounts had not come through," this London Telegraphstory reported. The story goes on to state that, "The banks have pledged to refund their customers, but only if they contact them directly and are able to prove they have been hit by the technical failure."

The FSA will no doubt take a look into the mess.

Another thing that must have irritated NatWest customers was that right through early this morning, NatWest had a small banner at the top of its website acknowledging customers' inability to access their accounts, while right below it was a conspicuous ad proudly boasting: “We have award-winning online banking. Does your bank?”  

Not really a smart thing to do when your award-wining online banking system isn’t working.  Sometime late this morning London time, someone at the bank must have noticed the discontinuity in its marketing message and all the website ads were taken down; the web page is now focused on the corporate apology for the mess and a customer FAQ list.

RBS Group announced today that it was going to keep 1200 bank branch offices open from 8am to 6pm for the rest of the week to help out customers. Branches were open over the weekend as well.

The final cost of the fiasco that the bank’s CEO said “should not have happened” could reach nearly 100 million pounds; not good news being that the bank is 82% owned by the UK taxpayer.

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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