AIB says ATM problem has been resolved

Christmas volumes understood to have overwhelmed third-party provider

Allied Irish Banks customer debit cards were back operating as normal at ATMs by yesterday afternoon after earlier problems left customers unable to withdraw money on the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

The bank issued a statement at 3.30pm yesterday to this effect and apologised to customers after debit cardholders experienced difficulties withdrawing cash at ATMs not operated by AIB. Some customers also found they were being blocked from their accounts on the basis they had withdrawn their daily limit, when they had not done so. Customers have been affected by the glitch since Friday.

“At midnight each day, AIB customers’ €600 ATM daily withdrawal limit will be reset,” the bank said.“AIB apologises to all customers for any inconvenience caused by this issue.”

The bank said its debit cards were now operating normally at ATM machines, including non-AIB ATMs. It said it was continuing to monitor the situation closely.


Heavy volumes
The breakdown is understood to be linked the a third-party service provider having difficulty dealing with the volume of activity created as people prepare for Christmas. The service provider, which was not named, has been acting for the bank for more than a year, it is understood.

Customers who had made failed attempts at non-AIB ATMs and where the total attempted to be withdrawn had exceeded the bank’s €600 daily withdrawal limit, were later unable to make withdrawals from AIB ATMs, because the system mistakenly considered they had already exceeded their daily withdrawal limit.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath called on the Central Bank to “rigorously assess” the IT systems of Irish banks after glitches which he said had a “major impact on customers”.

“Problems with IT systems are now becoming an all too common feature of the Irish banking system,” he said.

"People are entirely at the mercy of financial institutions when it comes to the administration of their personal finances and they need to be assured that adequate systems and safeguards are in place to protect their funds."

Services available
The bank said credit cards were working and that online shopping channels were causing no issues. It said its debit cards were working at point-of-sale terminals in shops and that cashback of up to €100 per transaction was available.

On Friday, AIB blamed a third-party provider after customers’ cards were blocked at ATMs not belonging to the bank. The glitch left customers unable to access their cash without going to specific machines but the bank said nobody would have been left out of pocket by the breakdown.

The bank insisted on Friday that AIB cards were working at the bank’s own ATMs but admitted they were being refused at other banks’ machines.

Earlier this year Ulster Bank apologised after its customers encountered difficulty using its ATM cards. The technical breakdown was part of a wider problem in Britain that affected the RBS banking group and its subsidiary NatWest. Similar problems occurred this month.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent