back to article It's paydaygeddon! NatWest account transfers 'disappearing' (not really)

There's drama aplenty for NatWest customers this morning as account transfers are “disappearing” according to aggrieved customers. Here in Blighty it's a pleasant payday Friday morning, and the fine folk of this country are paying their rent and counting the pennies in preparation for their monthly evening of expensive …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Halifax online banking seems to have fallen over this morning as well.

    1. paulf

      It was fine this morning when I logged into it.

      That might double the number of data points we have, but isn't in itself indicative of a wider problem. Perhaps you were part of a "small number of customers" who had a problem?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've checked it a few times today. It's varied from not responding at all after login to going slowly. Also some "extra's" weren't working before - I tried to turn on some cashback offers and got an error.

        Perhaps it's isolated, but I've just heard Halifax in a list of banks having problems in a report on the radio.

  2. OliP

    yet again...

  3. tiggity Silver badge

    Obviously not cost cutting related

    Just like the 2 branches I use are to be imminently shut down, and that's nothing to do with cost cutting!even hough I do over the counter stuff more than once a month - lots of stuff cannot be done online e.g. lots of bags of coins for "change" cannot exactly be done with a banking app, and every visit I always have to queue behind other people so there's obviously a demand or I'm unlucky to an extent that would make statisticians gasp at finding the only busy periods they ever have just happen to always coincide with my visits

  4. TheVoodooRay

    Yup, I just transferred some cash between NW accounts; it's left one and not appeared in the other. Their website is slow and the mobile app is slow, also.

    Thank God for El Reg - I don't have to interact with NW to find out their systems are broken.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Thank God for El Reg - I don't have to interact with NW to find out their systems are broken."

      Do you actually need ElReg to tell you that?

  5. JASR

    Lloyds online banking is also incrediby slow.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Nothing new there, then!

  6. nano200

    The scary part here is that most people on thereg knows very well these "so-called" money are nothing but entries in a MySQL db, that is replicated and backed up across a cluster of servers.

    True armageddon will come if it happens all those mirror servers for whatever reason loose the overview and the balances stop adding up.

    It is actually insane that we in our society today are trusting institutions with this much wealth, knowing how it actually operates technologically and how many faults that can cause billions to be wiped out of existance.

    From this point of view, I cherish something like Bitcoin as the records can be fully verified and and cant disappear.

    1. trollied

      > MySQL

      Banks do not use MySQL to store your transactions. Crikey.

      1. Naselus

        "Banks do not use MySQL to store your transactions"

        Yup, they use some crazy shit drawn up in COBOL in the mid-1970s.

        1. Bronek Kozicki

          Why use a database, when text file will do nicely?


          1. Richard 81

            Text file? Get with the times granddad.

            All the cool companies keep their critical data on a host of obscurely named Excel workbooks, spread across a hundred different folders. Also ageing VBA scripts that no one knows how to debug FTW.

          2. patrickstar

            This is probably closer to the truth than you intended. Lots of stuff in banks happen with text files. Not so much permanent storage as Money transfer, though. Sometimes even transferred by plain old FTP.

        2. Stevie


          Doubt it. Static linked Cobol systems just work. They get blamed for all sorts of problems, but if you track those problems far enough you'll find a stalled RFP to toss the baby out with the bathwater.

          Besides, Cobol isn't about databases. Databases of the same despised era are CODASYL compliant, a slightly different thing.

          Turns out you need to know a bit more about the Cobol stuff before you rewrite it. There was an awful mess back in the first George Bush era when a bunch of new financial software was put in place of some older nasty Cobol stuff and it transpired that the bright young things didn't bother to understand what they were tossing out.

          This is a widespread issue of course, and undoubtedly the reason so many corporations are decidely unhappy at the thought of replacing applications that work for the dodgy world of hackable buggy replacement systems.

          Nope, I don't do Cobol any more, but I have years of experince with it and could make a decent living doing so should the need arise. I'm also unafraid of computer language grammars that don't resemble Cobol and have a number of them under my belt.

          Most of my younger colleagues with still-shiny CS degrees get the shakes if asked to look at anything that doesn't look like C to the point that their shell scripting skills are appalling. Hell, there are a bunch of them who can't get puppet to work and they had a bleeding training course on the bugger.

          What was the question?

          1. Brian Miller

            Re: Cobol

            Most of my younger colleagues with still-shiny CS degrees get the shakes if asked to look at anything that doesn't look like C to the point that their shell scripting skills are appalling.

            HAHAHAHA!! As if I could have the problem that they could understand C! And shell scripting skills? Oh, as if. College degrees are toilet paper. Never mind what's on the paper, look at what they've put out into the community. If they haven't done that, they're not worth the bother.

            And the last time I had a bank that couldn't run as a bank, I withdrew all my money, and switched. People need to look at their bank's ratings, and move when need be.

            1. Ogi

              Re: Cobol

              > And the last time I had a bank that couldn't run as a bank, I withdrew all my money, and switched. People need to look at their bank's ratings, and move when need be.

              Switched... to where exactly? So far every single major bank has had some sort of "technical problems", or a security leak, or some other godforsaken issue.

              At this point, I would rather just put it all in cash under my mattress, but I can't convince my company to pay me in bags of used £20's, and more and more things are "online only" or "card only", so can't use cash.

              So have to have at least one account. Can anyone recommend a decent bank that does not have such problems? Natwest has been the best so far, but they have been faltering lately.

            2. patrickstar

              Re: Cobol

              It's been said that the curly brace syntax is so popular simply because it looks cool.

              Compare VB.NET to C#. They are basically the same language - just that one looks lame and the other cool. Guess which one is the most popular, by far...

              I bet that if Ada had curly brace syntax it would be where C++ is today... and modern software would be slightly less awful.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Cobol

                I haven't looked, but my reason for C# over VB - besides the nasty taste left over from VBA, is that I came from the Java world, C# was a natural move. I imagine you'll find Java and familiarity is more the cause than "braces look cool".

                (p.s. I started in Object Pascal and Delphi 2, and found curly braces weird and distracting for the longest time).

                1. patrickstar

                  Re: Cobol

                  Well, VB had a very significant user base as well. Lots of businesses still depend on mountains of VB code for their day-to-day operations. It never had the sort of big well-known projects that Java does however.

                  Today you will find lots of new developers starting out with C# - far more than start out with VB. And entire shops that do nothing else.

                  As to C, I remember hating the syntax at first, also coming from a Pascal background. Especially casts, dereference, pointer fiddling, etc are objectively pretty damn ugly, but the syntax is very workable once you get used to it. Don't get me started on C++ though, now that's true horror!

                  1. Wayland

                    Re: Cobol

                    If you want to computerize a business process then MS Access and VBA gets it done, as does Excel spreadsheets. People got a lot done with DBase and Lotus Approach. These are not the most professional of methods but that's the point. It's the businesses themselves who have written these applications.

                    I tried writing such things in MS BASIC but it was too hard to do a good job. Switching to Turbo Pascal and the Delphi allowed me to do it properly. MS Access allows me to do it much faster. C allows me to write tight code close to the hardware but terribly time consuming and difficult for a business application.

                    You need the right tool for the job but often we can only use the best tool we have available.

                    1. daddyo

                      Re: Cobol

                      Yikes. Whenever I've seen this actually coded they broke down (losing interlocks, scaling issues) in the big peoples shops (2-40,000 concurrent sessions.)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cobol

            And if they were not afraid to spend the money for real big iron--DB2 as the data base.

    2. Spacedman

      They should use mongodb. Mongodb is web scale.

    3. Nifty Silver badge

      Don't give the blackhats ideas! In fact I have the scenario in my head for the perfect, untraceable hack, as no doubt other Reg readers have.

  7. Valerion

    Doesn't help others

    But it seems ok for me. App is a little slow but the transfers I've made today are all showing up correctly.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Someone once told me it is all just a series of plaintext files

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: lotsofmoney.txt

      I was told that these text files were .ini files

  9. Red Bren

    Don't worry!

    The regulator* will fine NatWest** a fortune for this. That will teach those pesky shareholders***

    * Part of the government

    ** Owned by the government

    *** The UK taxpayer

  10. katrinab Silver badge

    How slow is slow?

    The SLA for faster payments is 2 working hours. Usually it is much faster than that - in the time it takes to log out of one bank and log into the other, the money has usually arrived.

    1. StephenD

      Re: How slow is slow?

      Or as it helpfully says when I transfer money "The money should arrive in the destination account in less than two hours, though it can take longer." Very informative.

      But I agree, my experience is of almost instant transfers - how quickly we've got used to that, when it used to take days.

  11. Dippywood

    Haven't we been here before? Ah well, BACS to the future

  12. Halcin


    @ Ogi

    I have been with the same bank for longer than I can remember. They have never made a mistake with any of my accounts. Staff are friendly, fast, effective, and helpful.

    oh, the bank? First Direct. I only wish they were not part of HSBC, but thankfully their operations are kept separate.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Recommendation

      Was with First Direct since 1990 and can second those comments.

      Only abandoned ship when they implemented a misguided security policy forcing users to change banking password *very* frequently. I did write and tell them of the error of their ways but it obviously sounded good to someone and they persisted so ta ra.

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