Thursday 14 December 2017

Misha Glenny: The genius of the internet is that it connects everything. It is also its Achilles’ heel

THE bank he rode the storm of chronic financial mismanagement by drawing on the taxpayers’ boundless generosity during the banking collapse of 2008. But what billions in bad loans couldn’t do, an apparently tiny computer glitch might yet achieve.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s senior management will be biting their nails as they wait to see how many of their account holders at Ulster Bank, NatWest and RBS consider pulling their custom. A simple flaw in a routine upgrade seems to have knocked the bank’s entire system off-kilter.

Already, there have been reports that doctors in Mexico threatened to turn off a dying girl’s life-support because NatWest did not transfer money owed to the hospital looking after her. At least one couple claimed to have seen a house purchase collapse because payment did not go through. Studying my own account, I notice that while money owed to me has not been paid in, cash has still been going out with ruthless efficiency – although I haven’t been able to establish whether it has reached its intended recipients.

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