TSB fined nearly £50m over IT meltdown
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) have fined TSB Bank £48.6m over a botched IT upgrade in April 2018 that blocked customers from their accounts and banking services. The problems started when TSB moved the data for its corporate and customer services from an IT system run by Lloyds, its previous owner, to one owned by Sabadell, its Spanish parent. Though the data was moved successfully, the platform immediately experienced failures. Paul Pester quit as chief executive of TSB four months after the issues arose and it was not until December 2018 that the bank returned to business as usual. “The failings in this case were widespread and serious, which had a real impact on the day-to-day lives of a significant proportion of TSB’s customers, including those who were vulnerable,” Mark Steward, FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said.
Atom Bank makes its four day week permanent
Atom Bank is making its shift to a four-day working week permanent after a successful trial saw staff applications rise by a third and the number of employees leaving the firm fall by a fifth. The business also saw a record increase in customers, with 80,000 people joining and savings doubling to £5bn. The bank said moving staff to a four day week without a cut in salary had resulted in “a significant positive impact on employees, customer service, and operations.”
UK's largest banks to start lending again on properties with cladding
Lenders including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Nationwide Building Society, NatWest and Santander have confirmed they will start lending on medium and high-rise flats with cladding from January, in a move that could help thousands of people stuck in properties they have not been able to sell or remortgage.
Wells Fargo to pay $3.7bn over loan violations
US bank Wells Fargo has been ordered to pay a fine of $1.7bn plus a further $2bn in redress to customers for mismanagement of mortgages, car loans and bank accounts that occurred under its current leadership. The $3.7bn agreement was the largest ever civil penalty issued by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bank illegally charged fees and interest on auto loans and mortgages, had cars wrongly repossessed and imposed unlawful surprise overdraft fees, among other issues, the CFPB said. "Wells Fargo is a corporate recidivist that puts one-third of American households at risk of harm,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra told journalists in a briefing. "We are concerned that the bank's product launches, growth initiatives and other efforts to increase profits have delayed needed reform."
Bitter medicine: private equity moves into hospital ERs
The FT reports on how private equity firms are buying up the companies that employ emergency room doctors, capturing some of the 18% of GDP that the US spends on medical care.
LEISURE & HOSPITALITY
New European VAT rules set to increase travel booking costs
The European Commission has proposed a series of measures to modernise and improve the European Union’s VAT system. But experts say the new rules are expected to have “widespread implications” for consumers and businesses using apps and platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com to source travel and accommodation in EU countries. “The EU’s new drive to close the gap on undeclared and unpaid VAT on services from short-term accommodation letting to passengers transport mean that many will be liable to either pay VAT for the first time or to pay more VAT than is currently applied.”
3M to end ‘forever chemicals’ production as pressure builds
The US chemicals conglomerate 3M has pledged to stop making “forever chemicals” by the end of 2025 following heightened pressure from investors and campaigners.
MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
UK orders sale of Russian-backed broadband provider over ‘security risk’
The Luxembourg-based investment manager LetterOne, which is owned by several sanctioned Russian oligarchs including Mikhail Fridman, has been ordered by the UK Government to sell the fibre internet provider Upp due to national security concerns. Business Secretary Grant Shapps said he considered LetterOne’s ownership of Upp “a risk to national security” following an assessment under the National Security and Investment (NSI) Act. LetterOne, which also owns health retailer Holland & Barrett, said it was disappointed by the decision adding it had taken “fast, decisive action” to distance itself from its Russian founders.
Media groups shed $500bn in value as shares head for historic drop
The world’s biggest media companies saw over $500bn wiped off their market value this year as investors soured on the streaming revolution.
Amazon agrees deal with EU to end long-running data probes
Amazon has announced new measures to level the playing field for sellers in its marketplace after reaching a deal with EU antitrust regulators, settling concerns that its use of non-public data undermines rivals.
Small businesses left 'in limbo' over energy support delay
The Government's decision to delay the next announcement on the energy support that will be available to small businesses has left them on the brink of collapse, industry leaders have warned. The Energy Bill Relief Scheme runs until March, but a review of its affordability has been delayed with Downing Street blaming the complexity of the scheme. Martin McTague, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "What's supposed to be a festive period bringing back the small business spirit has now sadly been stolen by a Grinch government, who's under the illusion that small firms can plan on a less than three-month horizon and survive this bleak winter without any indication whatsoever whether their energy relief will continue or not."
Pandemic accelerates eurozone consumers’ move from cash
A study by the European Central Bank shows how the pandemic accelerated the decline in the use of cash across the eurozone. But rising uncertainty led to more consumers keeping cash at home.