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TIPS System Glitch Stalls European Banks

A glitch in the European Central Bank’s payment system late Monday (Aug. 9) left several EU financial institutions stranded during the vital hours near the close of business.

According to Reuters, the Target Instant Payment System (TIPS), which links commercial and central banks around the euro zone and handles close to $2.34 trillion (or 2 trillion euros) each day, already suffered a series of crashes last year, prompting an overhaul by the ECB.

Monday’s incident saw “a substantial number of participants” lose their access to the system, a spokesperson for the bank told Reuters. This meant that rather than tracking their transactions and accounts in the system, they were forced to rely on their own record keeping.

“It’s technically not possible to say how many users were affected. It’s probably a substantial number of participants,” the spokesperson said. “Participants usually do not rely only on Target to monitor their Target account balance and have their own internal accounting tools.”

The incident affecting the system’s information and control module began around 4:15 in the afternoon and was resolved in a little more than four hours. The ECB said the issue did not affect payments and ancillary systems.

The ECB runs TIPS with help from the central banks of France, Germany, Italy and Spain, connecting banks to their national central banks, and those central banks to each other.

The system was created to deal with the challenge of making real-time payments between the EU’s 27 member states, each of which has its own financial systems — and in many cases their own real-time payment rails.

According to Reuters, the consulting firm Deloitte recently concluded a review of the system following a series of technical troubles, one of which left payments stalled for 11 hours. The review found six crucial issues in the ECB’s operation of target, especially in how it makes changes and deals with crises.

Read more: How TIPS Is Helping ECB Expand Its Real-Time Payments Reach

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