NatWest debit cards non-functional on the first day of 2016
NatWest's outages have come at regular intervals embarrassing the bankReuters

NatWest customers were unable to make payments using their debit cards on the first day of 2016. The failure was witnessed across Tesco and other stores.

UK's largest retail and commercial bank admitted its account holders had run into trouble again but said the number of customers affected was very small. NatWest also tweeted: "We're aware of some issues with customers using their debit cards and are working hard to fix them. Sorry and thanks for your patience."

Customers responded on the social media platform by saying the glitch had ruined their day. While some said they were embarrassed over their cards getting rejected at Tesco checkouts, some others said they paid with cash or credit cards for their groceries.

The failure on New Year's Day was the latest glitch to hit the bank in recent times. In August 2015, the bank's payment system crashed, not allowing customers to transfer funds to other accounts. A month prior, customers could not log into online banking services for nearly an hour.

RBS, which manages the NatWest brand, also experienced some IT glitches in June 2015. For several days around 600,000 RBS and NatWest payments were halted. Earlier in 2012, customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank could not access their accounts due to software issues.

In 2014, RBS was fined £56m (€76.2m, $82.7m) by regulators for the outages. Ironically, a day after it was hit with the fine, the bank faced a similar outage.

Simon McNamara, chief administration officer at RBS, told investors in the summer of 2015 that the bank would invest £3.5bn in its IT systems to improve performance.