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NatWest getting 'back to normal', but glitch worries persist

NatWest says it should be getting back to normal today, following a catastrophic software bug.

Beleaguered bank NatWest has said customer balances should be "largely back to normal" today, following a catastrophic computer bug that saw many customers unable to make payments or access online banking.

It seems some people are still struggling in the aftermath, however, with NatWest extending opening hours to 8am to 6pm from Tuesday to Friday this week as the bank fights to clear its transaction backlog.

"I can confirm that we are making progress to clear the backlog of payments," RBS Group's customer services director Susan Allan said yesterday, "and I'm cautiously optimistic that RBS and NatWest customers' account balances will be back to normal from tomorrow."

NatWest wasn't able to offer a more up-to-date statement at the time of writing, but I'll let you know if I hear anything.

The problems appears to have stemmed from a software update gone awry in the middle of last week, which resulted in customers being unable to make crucial payments, or receive paychecks from their employers.

RBS (which owns NatWest) said the glitch was fixed over the weekend, the BBC reports. Half a week of payment confusion could take some time to sort through, however.

Frustrated customers have been venting online, with one tweeter saying, "Really hoping my wages come through on Friday otherwise I am screwed. #Natwest" One commenter on RBS' site writes, "My pay went in ok on Fri and then withdrawn by RBS on Sat leaving me overdrawn. I am very concerned this is going to be a problem through next week and affect my credit rating."

RBS Group has said it will work with credit agencies to stop scores from being affected, but concerns regarding other payments persist. On our Facebook wall, one reader says they "had problems accessing online banking and getting money INTO my account".

Others are impressed with the bank's handling of the crisis however, with one commenter saying, "Their transparency, honesty and genuine efforts to help (my local branch was open on Sunday!) have been fantastic." 

RBS boss Stephen Hester said nobody would be left "permanently out of pocket" as a result of the banking brouhaha -- something that could see the bank landed with a hefty bill as it struggles to catch up with lost payments.

While getting cash into customers' pockets has to be top priority, I'd like to see NatWest explaining exactly what went wrong on a technical level, and offering evidence that measures have been put in place to stop something similar happening again.

Are you affected? What do you think of NatWest's handling of the crisis? Let me know in the comments or on our Facebook wall.