Thousands of TSB customers continued to vent their anger on social media as outages to vital services continued into a sixth day, leaving some unable to pay bills and rent and small business owners fearing being unable to pay staff on Friday.
City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority – which has the power to levy unlimited fines for system outages – told The Daily Telegraph it now had a team on the ground at TSB HQ in London to oversee work to fix the problems.
Mr Pester invited further ridicule by claiming in an updated statement this afternoon that “everything is working”, despite acknowledging “one of the main ways that our customers see everything is working – through our internet banking and mobile app – isn’t functioning”.
He once again told customers he was "truly sorry" for the problems.
TSB's digital services are used by around 1.9 million of the bank's 5 million customers. The lender estimates its online banking services are operating at 50pc capacity, with mobile banking services at 90pc.
TSB customers reacted angrily on Twitter to Mr Pester’s statement. “Paul Pester do not lie… your site is still effectively DOWN!!” said Nils Reid.
“As for you Paul Pester this insincere and meaningless message is pointless. Compensate us now,” wrote Karen Nelson.
In response to the growing criticism, the TSB board said Mr Pester and his top team had their "full support".
Richard Meddings, TSB chairman, said: “The TSB board fully supports the executive team as they continue to work around the clock to fix the problems."
The pressure ratcheted up further on Mr Pester today as MPs accused the bank of cutting corners on the IT upgrade, which saw 1.3 billion customer records move from a system it had rented from its old owner Lloyds to its own platform.
Under the terms of its contract with Lloyds, TSB could have continued renting their IT system until the middle of 2025, giving it more breathing space.
But City sources said there was a “clear commercial incentive” for TSB to move quicker, after the rent it paid for use of the Lloyds system more than doubled last year to £200m per annum, eating into its profits.
“It doesn’t seem sensible that TSB took a big bang approach to this switch,” said Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP and co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking.
“This is simply not acceptable. If they’re going to do an upgrade they should have been prepared and have contingencies in place. This is like when KFC ran out of chicken.”
Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat leader, added: “One of the pities of this is that the point of TSB being spun-off a few years ago was to create genuine competition in the banking sector.
“By failing so abysmally, TSB might have actually entrenched the position of the big established banks. In order to restore credibility, new leadership is needed.”
Richard Anning, head of IT for the Institute of Chartered Accountants, said: "It's difficult to understand exactly what's going on, but the pressure was on to go which possibly was a bit of a warning sign."
Mr Pester took to Twitter in the early hours to say that its mobile app and website were up and running again – but problems quickly resurfaced.
The outage had begun at the weekend after a bungled switchover from an old IT system left customers unable to access their accounts to pay bills and check balances.
TSB had warned customers to expect disruption to its services over the Saturday and Sunday, but the issues have continued in the days since. It switched off its online services altogether for several hours yesterday in the hope of finding a remedy to the problems.
Dozens of customers responded to Mr Pester on Wednesday morning to say that they were still struggling to log on and make payments. Some said they could not see their mortgage accounts after logging on.
@tsb I’m trying to make an online payment (which is now woefully overdue because of all this) I’m getting to the last screen to confirm password and everytime I hit submit I get this! I thought you said the service was working? pic.twitter.com/CUb40etWyO— Chris Hodgson (@Skriss) April 25, 2018
The incompetence of @TSB continues; the app now works but it would appear that I no longer have a mortgage! I assume that means you won’t be taking any money from me on pay day (Friday)?!?— Stacey Kavanagh (@StaceyKav1) April 25, 2018
The bank, which has had engineers working around the clock to fix the debacle, is facing mounting pressure to explain the outage and put an end to the disruption. It confirmed it was restricting the number of users who can access its services to ensure the system remains stable.
Lloyds sought to distance itself from the farrago this morning, with chief financial officer George Culmer saying that from his company's perspective the migration of 1.3 billion customer records from their IT system to TSB’s over the weekend was “successfully completed”.
“There’s nothing we can do to help resolve the situation, that’s up to them,” said Mr Culmer.
As well as difficulty accessing their own accounts, some customers have reported being given access to those belonging to other customers they don't know, saying they were able to view other people's accounts when they logged in to their own, including account numbers and sort codes. TSB has denied seeing this issue.
Nicky Morgan MP, chair of the Treasury select committee, attacked the “meltdown” yesterday, warning that “warm words and platitudes will not suffice” and said she would be raising the issue with City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority.
TSB could face fines from both the FCA and the Information Commissioner’s Office, which is responsible for regulating companies’ use of customer data, if they find it to have breached the rules.
The bank will also be on the hook for compensation owed to customers who have been hit with penalty charges and credit card interest as a result of the problems.