Business

Mega payment 'caused HSBC fault'

HSBC sign Image copyright AFP

A fault at banking giant HSBC that left thousands of people without their wages before a bank holiday was caused by a mega-payment being rejected.

Some 275,000 payments were stranded by the problem that caused anger among customers ahead of the bank holiday in parts of the UK in late August.

In a letter to a committee of MPs, the bank said the delays were caused because it tried to push too big a payment through the system in one go.

HSBC has now changed its methods.

Mega file

The fault meant that it was not just HSBC customers who were affected, but also customers of other banks who were expecting payments, such as wages, from HSBC accounts.

The bank received 326 complaints as a result and has had to pay £29,000 in compensation.

BBC News reported one case in which a payment was stranded, preventing a couple to move into their new home. They were forced to check into a hotel, with all their belongings in the back of removal vans.

In a newly published letter to the Treasury Committee, HSBC explains that on the Wednesday night a file was sent to BACS - the system that processes electronic payments in the UK - which exceeded the £1bn limit placed in the system.

As a result, the payment was declined, causing the backlog. The bank said this was the first time in 47 years of using the system that this had happened.

It said it had changed its systems to ensure the problem did not happen again.

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