Database problems at the Bacs clearing system have left up to 400,000 people in the U.K. awaiting their salary payments.

The problem was discovered when batch processing which should have been completed on Wednesday afternoon (28 March) failed to clear. Payments due today (30 March) will not now clear until Monday.

Bacs provides a central clearing house for automated payments and clears 30 million a day. It is one of the largest automated payment systems in the world, processing more than 20 million salaries a month, 70 percent of UK household bills and the majority of state benefits and pension payments. In Europe it process over 15 percent of all European automated payments.

The Association of Payment Clearing Services, which overseas the Bacs system, said this was the first such problem it had incurred in ten years.

Voca, which operates the Bacs system, last year completed the transfer of its core systems to an IP based system Bacstel which, it said brought “improved security, faster payment confirmation, reduced processing costs and the ability to track the status of payments online.”

The Bacstel payment engine uses Oracle 10g database and the BEA Weblogic 8.1 application server running on a cluster of clusters of Sun Fire 25000 Ultrasparc servers. The system was built in Java by an in house team supported by software developers from Perot systems.

Earlier this month Voca and Link, the banking network operator, announced plans to merge, creating Europe’s largest processor of direct debit and credit transactions.

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