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Report calls for changes in wake of IT meltdown at Ulster Bank

A REVIEW of the banking sector's payment clearing processes has called for relatively small changes in the bank clearing system in the wake of Ulster Bank's technology meltdown last year, which left tens of thousands of customers without cash.

The independent report commissioned by the Central Bank called for regular check-ups of the payment system used by the country's largest lenders.

Thousands of Ulster Bank's 600,000 customers had to be compensated after its payment system collapsed last summer following problems at the bank's parent in the UK.

Ulster, headed up by chief executive Jim Brown, was forced to refund bank charges such as overdraft fees as well as fees for customers who missed payments on utility bills or even missed flights.

Even customers who do not bank with Ulster suffered; social welfare payments were delayed because many payments are routed through the bank.

CLEARING HOUSE

Yesterday's report was carried out by BH Consulting and examined some of the processes employed by the Irish Payment Services Organisation, which acts as a clearing house for Allied Irish, Bank of Ireland, BNP Paribas, Danske Bank, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank.

BH Consulting found the IPSO system to be "relatively robust" but recommended some changes including an annual check-up to replace the bi-annual check-ups in place at the moment.

BH Consulting also said that the payments system should bring risk-management processes in line with industry standards.

The report said IPSO members agreed with the recommendations.

The Central Bank added that it would work closely with IPSO to oversee and monitor the implementation of these actions to strengthen the Irish Payments Systems' risk-management processes.

Irish Independent