A man stands outside the Bank of England in the City of London

Banks may have to jettison old tech to be reliable, says Bank of England

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s banks may have to jettison ageing technology to meet tougher recovery requirements for critical services by March 2025, a senior Bank of England official said on Wednesday.

Banks including HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest and Barclays have three years to show regulators that key services such as payments and online banking can recover from outages within an acceptable time to avoid undermining confidence in the financial system.

Duncan Mackinnon, an executive director at the Bank of England, told a City & Financial conference that the central bank will be “pushing very hard” on what is an acceptable recovery time for key services.

“If a firm has a critical dependence on a particular IT system, and it’s of a certain age and the number of people who understand it and the backup to those people and systems are becoming more limited over time, then there is a debate to be had on getting off that legacy system,” Mackinnon said.

The Bank of England, which is at the forefront of standrad setting for operational resilience, will refine how it assesses the costs and benefits of requiring system changes, MacKinnon said.

Banks are increasingly outsourcing services to third parties such as cloud providers, which are not regulated by the BoE. Industry officials have said regulation of these third parties may be required as part of the new drive.

“We can’t be resilient on our own,” said Bharat Kapoor, head of operational risk and resilience at the London Stock Exchange’s LCH unit.

Mackinnon said it was up to parliament to decide on who falls under its rules and in the meantime regulators will stick with the principle of “you can outsource a service but not the responsibility”.

The new resilience rules will have a wide-ranging impact.

“Many firms here today will have made some external statements on when you are going to be carbon neutral, and most of your carbon will be created by third parties,” said Anna Mazzone, area vice president at ServiceNow.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by David Goodman)