Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has said that its latest IT debacle, which left customers unable to access their accounts for hours last night, was due to a hardware failure and is unrelated to the software problems it experienced during last summer’s glitch.

Last night’s problems, which began at 22.00 GMT, left customers unable to make online transactions, carry out debit card payments, or withdraw cash.

This isn’t the first time the bank has suffered an IT ‘glitch’ that has left customers without access to their funds. Less than a year ago millions of RBS customers couldn’t get money out of their bank accounts after a botched upgrade that was made to batch processing software CA 7 from CA Technologies, which impacted some accounts for more than a month.

However, the bank has said that the latest glitch wasn’t related and was down to its hardware.

An RBS spokesperson said: “We apologise for the disruption our customers experienced last night. All systems are up and running as normal, though any customers with any individual problems should get in touch with us.

"Between roughly 9-11pm customers were not able to access online banking and also had problems with ATM use and point of service payments.

"This problem was caused by a hardware fault and was not related to the issues we experienced last summer. It was much easier to fix, though clearly an unacceptable failure.

"Any customer who was left out of pocket due to this outage should get in touch so we can put things right for them."

RBS has revealed that the technical problems it had last summer are to cost the bank at least £125 million.

RBS’ chief executive Stephen Hester has since said that the banking group may have avoided the major IT glitch if it had focused more on keeping its existing systems up-to-date, rather than developing new systems.

“RBS has seen a big mushrooming in spending on technology. With hindsight maybe a bit more of that increase in spend should have been in the core, taken-for-granted systems that work every day,” said Hester.

“Some of our focus was on the new things people want.”