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Routine WHAT NOW? Bank of England’s CHAPS payment system goes TITSUP

Abandon hope all ye homebuyers who enter

The CHAPS system used to handle most bank-to-bank transfers in the UK has collapsed, with all mortgage payments currently on pause.

We were told that the problem was due to an update over the weekend, when the details of new CHAPS users were being added and old ones removed. This is meant to be a routine operation, but a glitch caused the system to fall down.

The problem has mainly affected banks and corporations, but mortgage customers are also affected.

A spokeswoman told us these payments were “on pause” and had not “disappeared into the ether”. She also insisted there had been no security breach.

The system has been down since about 11am this morning, although the BoE promised to make certain crucial payments manually in a bid to stop Britain's financial system grinding to a halt.

Many people will know CHAPS as the system used to transfer money when buying a house.

A BoE spokeswoman said: "The Bank of England has identified a technical issue related to some routine maintenance of the RTGS [retail-time gross settlement] payment system and has paused settlement while we resolve it.

"We are working to address this issue as quickly as possible, and restart the RTGS payment system in a controlled manner. The most important payments are being made manually and we can reassure the public that all payments made today will be processed."

The Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS) is celebrating its 30th birthday this year, but like so many other chaps' big moments, the event has ended in failure.

This "unsung hero" of the financial sector processes 92 per cent of all payments between banks. Over the course of 2013, it handled £70.1 trillion worth of payments, an average of £277bn daily.

One Twitterer asked the question that is on everyone's lips.

We will bring you the answer to that query as soon as we have it. ®

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