It would be safe to say that today’s infrastructure is technology. Yesterday’s was roads and railways.
If we accept this, then said technology should a) work except in exceptional circumstances and b) when it doesn’t the company that supplies the technology infrastructure should be able to fix it fast.
And yet bank networks still crash. Quite often. In the UK, the Barclays network collapsed last year, HSBC has gone offline, Lloyds has come unstuck (while a friend of BillingViews was buying a car) and the Royal Bank of Scotland, the largest, disappears on a fairly regular basis.
The last time was two nights ago and no RBS, NatWest or Ulster Bank customer was able to pay for anything with their cards. For some it meant being ejected from taxis and made to walk home, for some it was merely embarrassing.
BillingViews operatives were at a reception and the reception host took some people to dinner. The embarrassment at having a credit card refused, then trying again and getting the message ‘your expiry date is wrong’ is not hard to imagine in a work context.
With a reliance on technology as our infrastructure this kind of crash is not acceptable.
And before you relax and think ‘See, those banking systems…shot to pieces’ we are not much better. Vodafone’s Scottish network collapsed earlier this year, resulting in, well, the Scottish population not being able to get texts or email or surf the internet while busy trying to make a living. There are, of course, other examples.
At least with roads and railways, you can be fairly sure that they will work. With infrastructure companies in the modern age – you are not so sure. And when the infrastructure collapses in the modern world, it puts the lifeblood of economies in jeopardy.
With smartphones, mobile internet, mobile money and mobile payments on the brink of becoming the norm it is something to think about. Along with the back up plans and systems.