The HSBC Failure Has Many Wondering: Are Banking Providers Taking the Appropriate Measures to Ensure Code Quality and System Dependability?


The banking industry has definitely had its share of ups and downs when it comes to service reliability. In the past year, there have been a number of instances where customers have been unable to gain access to funds, receive deposits, and pay bills. As reported in an article by theguardian, HSBC experienced a system failure at the end of August, which left thousands of their customers in a bind over a major banking holiday.


This “technology glitch”, as reported by HSBC, prevented customers from being paid their salaries. The reported system failure made it impossible for employers to access their business banking accounts. A staggering number of banks have experienced system failures and service issues like this one. This raises a question: Is poor code quality becoming a big problem for the banking industry?

With the HSBC system failure, approximately 275,000 payments did not go through on the Friday prior to a major bank holiday. The electronic payments system experienced problems, which prevented business customers from making payments to their employees. This is not just a glitch, but a major problem for the banking services provider.

Diving Deeper into the Rabbit Hole

When it comes to source code defects, prevention is always the better choice because it keeps costs low as well as customers happy. Are these providers using code analysis tools to identify problems before they reach their customers? This unexpected event escalated into bigger issues for other businesses and customers not associated with the bank. The following resulted from the “technical glitch” experienced by HSBC:

  • Employees could not be paid.
  • Businesses could not pay their suppliers.
  • Individuals were unable to pay bills.
  • Many experienced overdraft charges.
  • Some customers were unable to meet basic needs.

It might start with 275,000 payments not going through, but this effects far more than the current numbers in customer accounts. For example, one couple was unable to put the deposit down for their wedding venue and dress. Today, everyone relies on electronic means to pay their bills, get paid, and manage their business. The banking industry must take precautions to ensure quality issues and defects do not wreak havoc on their customers.

Code Analysis Prevents Big Problems

Reliable analysis practices are the easiest way to prevent these problems, as they aid in defect identification for improved quality and system reliability. One defect is capable of causing a number of issues ranging from lack of payment to immense overdraft charges in the banking industry. Poor code quality also impacts companies by:

  • Delaying Projects
  • Increasing Costs
  • Decreasing Revenue
  • Upsetting Customers
  • Ruining Business Reputation

Quality issues are detrimental to any company whether in banking or another industry. Code analysis helps companies identify problems within source code faster with less havoc. If a defect or quality issue remains unnoticed, costs increase and the code becomes less reliable.

For HSBC, the electronic payments system issue was not discussed other than saying a “technical glitch” occurred. Without more information, it is hard to determine if quality played a role in the problem and whether or not it was on their end or due to an outside provider. Still the issues that come along with these failures are critical in the banking industry making it imperative to take additional IT risk management measures for customers.


Pete Pizzutillo
Pete Pizzutillo Vice President
Pete Pizzutillo is Vice President at CAST and has spent the last 15 years working in the software industry. He passionately believes Software Intelligence is the cornerstone to successful digital transformation, and he actively helps customers realize the benefits of CAST's software analytics to ensure their IT systems are secure, resilient and efficient to support the next wave of modern business.
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