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DBS to be reprimanded & fined for ‘unacceptable’ outage? Bank assures clients their money is ‘safe’

The Independent logo The Independent 25/11/2021 Hana O
© The Independent Singapore

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Singapore —  Customers continue to pile on complaints against DBS Bank, Southeast Asia’s largest bank by assets this morning despite the bank’s assurances that their money is safe.

Worse still, as the end of the month nears, which is around the time most people get paid, it also means that bank traffic will definitely go.

Analysts expect the company will be reprimanded and fined for the extended outage.

And sure enough, the Monetary Authority of Singapore which supervises banks here, said on Wednesday night that it will consider “appropriate supervisory actions” but without specifying what these would be.

“This is a serious disruption, and MAS expects DBS to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the root causes and implement the necessary remedial measures,” said MAS’ assistant managing director (banking and insurance) Marcus Lim last night in a Channel News Asia report.

Some will liken this to moving money from one hand to the other, because, while DBS Bank is a public company listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), its controlling shareholder is Temasek Holdings, the country’s second-largest sovereign wealth fund.

Not exactly transferring a wallet from one pocket to the other. But not entirely unlike it, since Temasek holds 29 per cent of DBS shares.

An outage or disruption to digital banking services is a serious issue, given the increasing number of users who depend on convenient banking transactions, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Practically all this week, it appears that DBS customers have found themselves unable to access digital services.

Already by noon on Tuesday (Nov 23), more than 2,500 complaints had been posted online as users could still not gain access to their online banking.

At around 3 pm on Tuesday, DBS announced via Facebook that services had been “fully restored” only to have announced later “Unfortunately, yesterday’s digital banking issue has recurred, and this has affected our services.”

An earlier version of DBS’ post described it as “intermittent slowness” which had some netizens scoff at the language while some made spitefully critical comments at DBS.

“Some of our customers are facing intermittent slowness when accessing our banking services, and we are currently working to resolve this,” DBS had said.

The bank has apologised for the inconvenience caused and said it was doing its best to resolve the situation. The bank’s top executive for Singapore, Shee Tse Koon, said on a video on DBS’ Facebook page: “I want to assure you that your deposits and monies are safe.”

He said that customers could still make use of the bank’s branches and its phone banking services.

The trouble with that is that DBS has been progressively closing down branches even in such areas as Holland Village, which because it is right next to the MRT station of the same name, serves a huge area, and not just the residents and businesses of the immediate vicinity.

As the disruption drags on, more users are getting increasingly disgruntled and more are saying such a prolonged disruption is simply unacceptable.

It’s been reported that the issue had caused a “significant financial impact” on clients.

“The disruption certainly had a broad and likely material impact for many customers, and we would expect to see at least a notice from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)” or a fine, Business Times reported, quoting analysts.

DBS bank head issues statement

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr Shee Tse Koon issued an update on the issue on social media.

“We have since been working round the clock, together with our third-party engineering providers, to fix the problem and recover our digital banking services,” said Mr Koon.

To facilitate customers’ banking needs amid the outage, DBS banking services at all branches were extended by two hours.

“In the meantime, please be assured that your deposits and monies are safe and that you can continue with your banking needs either through our branches or through phone banking,” said Mr Koon.

As of early Thursday morning (Nov 25), users are still commenting on the earlier DBS post noting they could still not log in.

Among the most detailed complaints was:

“It is now 00:56 am on 25th Nov 2021 and I have been trying to log in since 10:00 pm on 24th Nov 2021 till now. For almost three hours, either I cannot log in or I get logged out before I can perform any transaction,” said Facebook user Glenn Goh.

“So please advise how is it possible that you can post at 10:35 pm on 24th Nov 2021 that your digital banking services are returning to normal? Or is it like a “new normal” that we are not aware of? The same like living with COVID-19 new normal?”

Others highlighted that payday was nearing, and the volume of transactions is expected to increase.

“If you can’t handle the volume now, come payday, which is only a few days away, you are going to have a bigger headache. You better start praying,” said Facebook user Caleb Wong. /TISG

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