A wave of frustration swept across thousands of HSBC customers in Britain as they found themselves locked out of crucial mobile and online banking services on Friday, adding to a recurring series of technical glitches plaguing the country’s banking sector.
Reports flooded in from HSBC customers, indicating an inability to access essential banking features, marking yet another instance of service disruption for British banks. Downdetector, a website monitoring service outages, registered a surge in complaints starting around 0700 GMT, peaking at over 4,000 by 0900 GMT. Even by 1600 GMT, hundreds of customers continued to voice concerns over ongoing issues.
HSBC promptly acknowledged the widespread problems, acknowledging the obstacles faced by customers in utilizing the bank’s mobile and online banking facilities, including authorization for online card purchases through the app.
A spokesperson for HSBC addressed the concerns, stating, “We’re working hard to restore HSBC UK’s Mobile and Online Banking service. We understand this is really frustrating for some of our customers, and we are really sorry for the inconvenience.” The bank attributed the disruption to an “internal system issue.”
However, the timing of this service outage raised significant concerns, coinciding with one of the busiest shopping days of the year in the UK. Sam Richardson, deputy editor of consumer advocacy magazine Which?, highlighted the potential repercussions: “This HSBC outage will cause a real headache for a lot of its customers. In the worst cases, it could prevent people from making essential payments such as rent and bills, all on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.”
Criticism mounted from consumer advocates and regulators who have persistently urged banks to fortify their systems against such disruptions. This push comes as banks increasingly emphasize digital services while scaling down physical branches.
Regulatory bodies, including the Bank of England, have previously called for swift recovery measures to prevent such outages from eroding public trust in the financial sector. In April last year, the Bank of England mandated banks to expedite their recovery from such service disruptions to maintain public confidence in the banking system.
As HSBC grapples with this latest setback, the incident underscores the vulnerabilities of digital banking systems and the pressing need for robust measures to safeguard against disruptions, especially during critical periods such as Black Friday, impacting customers’ access to vital financial services.