On Friday, a substantial number of HSBC customers in the United Kingdom encountered significant difficulties accessing their mobile and online banking services, marking another instance in a series of recurring issues that have plagued British banks.
The disruption began shortly after 0700 GMT and reached its peak with over 4,000 complaints registered on Downdetector by 0900 GMT. Even at 1600 GMT, hundreds of customers were still reporting problems with the services.
HSBC, in response to the widespread issues, publicly acknowledged the situation.
A bank spokesperson stated, “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 spokesperson attributed the problems to an “internal system issue.”
Consumer advocates voiced concerns about the timing of the disruption, given that it coincided with one of the UK’s busiest shopping days, Black Friday.
Sam Richardson, deputy editor of consumer advocacy magazine Which?, commented, “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.”
The incident underscored the increasing reliance on digital services, particularly during crucial shopping periods.
In recent years, regulators and politicians have repeatedly urged banks to address and prevent such service disruptions, especially as financial institutions are reducing their physical presence and promoting digital banking.
The Bank of England, for instance, issued guidance in April of the previous year, urging banks to expedite their recovery from outages to prevent undermining public confidence in the financial sector.
For HSBC, this incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of maintaining robust digital infrastructure and the potential consequences of service outages, particularly during times when customers heavily depend on online banking services.
It also highlights the ongoing challenges faced by banks as they transition to a more digital-centric model while striving to ensure the reliability and security of their services.