HSBC Faces Digital Banking Crisis: Thousands of UK Customers Locked Out on Black Friday

HSBC Faces Digital Banking Crisis: Thousands of UK Customers Locked Out on Black Friday

London – November 24, 2023

In a major setback for HSBC (HSBA.L), thousands of its UK customers reported being unable to access critical mobile and online banking services on Friday, marking the latest in a series of persistent issues faced by British banks. The disruptions, documented by the service outage tracker Downdetector, began around 0700 GMT, peaking at over 4,000 complaints by 0900 GMT. As of 1600 GMT, hundreds of customers continued to express ongoing issues.

HSBC swiftly acknowledged the problem, with a spokesperson for the bank stating, “We’re working hard to restore HSBC UK’s Mobile and Online Banking service, including the authorizing of online card purchases via the app. We understand this is really frustrating for some of our customers, and we are really sorry for the inconvenience.” The root cause of the disruptions was attributed to an “internal system issue.”

The timing of the outage raised concerns, as it coincided with Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year and a crucial day for retail transactions. Consumer advocates, including Sam Richardson, deputy editor of consumer advocacy magazine Which?, highlighted the potential impact: “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.”

This incident underscores broader concerns about the digital infrastructure of major banks, particularly on days with heightened financial activity. Regulators and politicians have consistently urged banks to fortify their systems against such disruptions, emphasizing the importance of maintaining public confidence in the financial sector. The Bank of England, in April of the previous year, had explicitly instructed banks to expedite recovery from outages to prevent erosion of trust in the financial system.

As HSBC works diligently to address the internal system issue, the incident prompts a renewed call for financial institutions to bolster their digital resilience and ensure uninterrupted services, especially during critical periods such as Black Friday.

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