4 Theories Behind The RBS Cashless Card Machine Fiasco

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stephen hester

Hooray, RBS and Natwest have launched their new cardless cash machine apps for smartphones. Boo, you can’t deposit or withdraw any money from you account. Conspiracy or circumstance?

Here a few wild ideas bouncing round the web right now.

Moody’s Downgrade Blues

If you don’t already know, Moody’s, the credit rating agency, downgraded a number of banks. RBS had their credit rating slapped down a notch although Natwest got away unscathed. Like the eye of Sauron scouring the land in search of victims, the bank shut up shop for a few days and used your money to prop up their punch drunk balance sheet.

Likelihood? Not very likely. Even though their credit rating has taken it a dip it doesn’t stop trading. Money still needs to circulate through the system and the possibility of a ratings downgrade simply isn’t enough to make the Hester and co. pull the plug on your account.

Cardless Cash Machines Blow A Fuse

One of the wilder theories doing the rounds is that the recent launch of cardless cash machine services caused a huge surge in online banking. Power supplies were overloaded and the fuses simply went pop. Goodnight cardless cash and goodnight online banking. Apparently, the body of a fried technical support team member will have to be cleared (with a dustpan and brush) before normal services can be resumed.

Likelihood? We have a better chance of the United Kingdom winning the Eurovision song contest. First off, any decent company has a massive resilience plan in place. Ecommerce and banking systems have multiple data centres. If one dies, the second seamlessly takes over (unless thieves, who thought they were stealing copper cables, manage to cut fibre optic links). I’d like to add that no techies were harmed during the creation of this piece of content!

Stephen Hester Has A Strop

Just recently, Stephen Hester, the head of RBS, gave up his near £1,000,000 bonus. Whilst some share holders applauded his decision, many were of the opinion that this move was designed purely to quell a potential revolt rather than based on pragmatism. In revenge, Hester walked over the to plug socket marked “Emergency Use Only: Operate Only When Having A Very Bad Bonus Day” and flicked the switch. This theory brings to mind images of David Walliams whose computer liked, to say ‘no’.

Likelihood? No chance. We all have bad days. We all lose money from time to time (although most of us would love to be in a position to misplace a million quid down the back of the sofa) but it simply isn’t feasible. The idea that the man at the top has a kill switch for your bank accounts is, well, a little bit silly. Besides, Hester will probably get a nice pay off with his golden handshake.

Rogue Coder Injects Nasty Bug Into The System

Malicious code is everywhere. How times have you received a warning when you’ve attempted to access a website containing malware? How many times have you been warned not to look at those scantily clad cheerleaders on the web? It’s goes without saying that you’d never expect to find malware on a banks website but mistakes can be made when coding complex systems.

The idea of a rogue coder using a system to steal accidentally collect your data isn’t the preserve of Google. Back in 2011, customers of Tesco Bank who used Internet Explored 9 were locked out of their accounts. The problem? Some really flaky coding that probably wasn’t tested with ALL of the major browsers of the time before it was set free onto the wild, wild web.

The RBS Ship Needed A Quick Injection Of Cash

To date, the RBS group has received around £37 billion pounds of tax payers cash. Although George Osborne has stated that another £140 billion will be made available to get the banks lending again the money won’t be in their pockets any time soon. Cue a highly suspicious ‘system failure’ that allows RBS to make a £73 billion profit from by trading the money it’s customers money.

It might seem incredibly far fetched but this one might just have some legs. RBS group has cash assets of £82 billion but has about £476 billion in loans on its books. It seems that, when you boil the figures down, the whole 5 day mess has, potentially, made RBS a nice fat £73 billion profit. I’m not going to delve into the precise maths but there’s more detail to be found in this article about the RBS/Ulster glitch.


Since I first put fingers to keyboard it would appear that the source of the RBS banking groups woes have been identified. Steven Hester has stated the problems stem from the release of untested computer code into the banks IT systems. Way to go RBS.

If you work in IT keep your eyes open; you might just see an opening for a new IT director advertised very soon.

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