LONDON Britain's banks need to dedicate far greater resources toward securing their IT infrastructure and should have a designated board member overseeing the issue, a senior lawmaker said, following a string of high-profile technology failures.
Andrew Tyrie, chairman of parliament's Treasury Committee, also suggested that Andrew Bailey, the deputy governor of the Bank of England who heads its banks supervisory arm, should be tasked with ensuring the banks develop more resilience.
Britain's retail banks have been hit by a number of technology failures in recent years, causing inconvenience for hundreds of thousands of customers and prompting lawmakers to call for more investment in financial technology.
"Every few months we have yet another IT failure at a major bank," Tyrie said in a statement on Sunday. "These IT blunders and weaknesses are exposing millions of people to uncertainty, disruption and sometimes distress. Businesses suffer, too. We can’t carry on like this."
Tyrie said someone, probably Bailey, the head of the BoE's Prudential Regulation Authority supervisory arm, needed to take "a leadership role" over an issue that poses systemic risk to the banking system.
"Currently, no one group seems to be directly responsible for developing a full understanding of the risks carried," Tyrie said in a letter to Bailey dated Jan. 22 and published by the committee.
"A group of this type should now be formed with the primary task of ensuring that the banks develop more robust resilience to protect banking and payment systems. The head of the PRA may be best suited for the leadership role."
HSBC suffered an online and mobile banking blackout in January while in 2015 thousands of Britons failed to receive their wages when some HSBC business customers were blocked from making payments.
State-backed Royal Bank of Scotland has promised to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in its computer systems after a series of high-profile glitches. Some customers at Barclays have also endured problems.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Dale Hudson)