New analysis by Which? has found that banks are locking customers out of their accounts five times a week because of IT meltdowns. In the last year, the UK’s biggest banks were hit with a total of 265 systems failures. The consumer group, which looked at Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) figures from October 2018 to September 2019 to make the findings.

The 265 IT glitches involved 133 incidents involving internet banking, 111 mobile banking failures and 90 telephone banking outages. A glitch can often occur on more than one of these systems at the same time, but is counted as a single incident, Which? said. Some single incidents may have affected customers at more than one banking brand within a particular banking group. This means that the total number of unique incidents is likely to be fewer than 265, Which? said.

The research also suggests that 11 million adults lack the confidence to do basic banking tasks online. The analysis said that two-thirds (65 percent) of people think they would find it difficult to live their life without access to a bank branch – at a time when the industry is carrying out widespread branch closures across the UK.

RBS and Santander topped the figures with 18 computer glitches each. This was followed by Barclays (17) and Tesco Bank(16). Starling and M&S Bank were both trouble-free.

Gareth Shaw, head of money, Which?, said: “In our nationwide survey, consumers have made it clear that cash is a vital back-up when digital systems fail – so it’s clear the next government should urgently introduce legislation to protect cash for as long as it is needed.”

Responding to the analysis, Chief Executive at UK Finance Stephen Jones said “Operational resilience is crucial in a modern financial system and the industry continues to invest billions to ensure systems – human and digital – are robust and secure. When incidents do occur, firms work around the clock to minimise disruption and get services back up and running as quickly as possible.”

“Digital innovation is transforming the way money is managed with 24/7 access to payment systems, increasing the range of day to day banking options and providing better back-up for customers if a service is temporarily disrupted.”

“The industry conducts sector-wide exercises with regulators to ensure it is prepared to respond effectively to any major disruptions or events as part of its continued commitment to maintaining the resilience of the financial system. UK Finance continues to engage with government over how coordination between regulatory authorities could be improved, seeking to avoid overlapped or rushed mandatory change programmes that impact firms’ ability to protect their customers.”

Number of failures per bank, according to the Which? analysis of FCA data:

  • Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), 18
  • Santander, 18
  • Barclays, 17
  • Tesco Bank, 16
  • First Direct, 15
  • HSBC UK, 15
  • Cahoot, 14
  • NatWest, 14
  • Lloyds Bank, 13
  • Ulster Bank, 11
  • Virgin Money, 11
  • Bank of Scotland, 10
  • Halifax, 10
  • Intelligent Finance, 10
  • First Trust Bank, 8
  • Metro Bank, 8
  • Bank of Ireland, 7
  • Chelsea Building Society, 6
  • TSB, 6
  • Yorkshire Building Society, 6
  • Danske Bank, 5
  • Smile, 5
  • Co-op Bank, 5
  • Nationwide Building Society, 4
  • Coventry Building Society, 3
  • Monzo Bank, 3
  • B, 3
  • Clydesdale Bank, 2
  • Yorkshire Bank, 2
  • M&S Bank, 0
  • Starling Bank, 0