Central Bank fine almost meaningless in era of consumer disempowerment

Analysis: Bank will almost inevitably end up passing the financial consequences of its failures onto its customers

Ulster Bank has been fined €3.5 million  after an IT failure prevented thousands of customers being able to use their accounts over a month.  The fine is the highest imposed by the Central Bank of Ireland and has been accepted by RBS-owned Ulster Bank. About 600,000 customers were unable to access cash at bank machines and make payments, and many saw delays in getting money into their accounts during 28 days in June and July 2012.  Bank. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ulster Bank has been fined €3.5 million after an IT failure prevented thousands of customers being able to use their accounts over a month. The fine is the highest imposed by the Central Bank of Ireland and has been accepted by RBS-owned Ulster Bank. About 600,000 customers were unable to access cash at bank machines and make payments, and many saw delays in getting money into their accounts during 28 days in June and July 2012. Bank. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Anyone affected by Ulster Bank’s almost total failure to function as a bank for four weeks over two years ago might be forgiven for arching an eyebrow at the €3.5 million fine which has just been imposed by the Central Bank.

In June of 2012 the bank’s IT system collapsed for four weeks. Wages did not hit people’s accounts, direct debits went unpaid and mortgage payments were missed. The problem was not just confined to Ulster Bank as many thousands of customers of other banks were unable to make payments because money they expected from Ulster Bank customers never made it to their accounts.

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