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DBS Chairman vows accountability for banking service disruptions in senior management

DBS Bank’s Chairman Peter Seah apologised for the bank’s shortcomings amid ongoing digital disruptions.

“As an acknowledgement that the bank could have done better, senior management will be held accountable, and this will be reflected in their compensation, ” he said in a statement issued on Wednesday.



SINGAPORE: DBS Bank Ltd (DBS Bank) Chairman Peter Seah issued an apology on Wednesday (1st November) for the bank’s failure to meet the expected standards amidst a series of digital disruptions this year. He emphasized that senior management would be held accountable, particularly in terms of their “compensation”.

In an official statement released on the same day, Mr Seah acknowledged the bank’s inability to meet these expectations, recognizing the instances throughout the past year when DBS had not adhered to its own set standards.

“As an acknowledgement that the bank could have done better, senior management will be held accountable, and this will be reflected in their compensation.”

Following the announcement by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) that it has imposed restrictions on DBS, including a ban on new business acquisitions and non-essential IT changes for six months, Mr Seah made statements addressing the matter.

In addition to the IT changes freeze, MAS has instructed DBS Bank not to decrease the size of its branch and ATM networks to ensure customers have alternative channels during disruptions.

In response to these regulatory measures, DBS said they initiated a comprehensive plan aimed at enhancing technology resiliency.

This plan encompasses both immediate and long-term strategies, focusing on reinforcing technology governance, human resources and leadership, as well as refining systems and processes.

The development of this plan followed an assessment conducted by Accenture, an external consultancy firm appointed to scrutinize the bank’s operations in the aftermath of a full-day service outage in March.

“The findings of the Accenture review – completed in August – were also corroborated against recent disruptions – the Sep 26 incident impacting FAST/PayNow transactions, the Oct 14 data centre incident, as well as the Oct 20 incident when some customers had intermittent access to DBS PayLah!,” the bank said.

DBS says they are strengthening system resilience and process enhancement

In the recent statement, the bank emphasized its dedication to fortifying system resilience and enforcing stricter protocols regarding change management.

The bank underscored that these structural enhancements would require a significant timeline for full implementation, estimating completion within 12 to 24 months.

“With these changes, customers can expect to see concrete improvements in both service availability and service recovery in the coming months and over the longer term.”

As part of its strategic initiatives, DBS outlined specific measures, including the establishment of new service availability benchmarks for key digital banking services such as balance enquiries, overseas payments, and domestic payments.

“Should one of these services become temporarily unavailable on a particular digital channel, the bank will ensure that the service is available on an alternative digital channel,” DBS said.

“The bank pledges to limit downtime, where each service is completely unavailable across all digital channels, to no more than an average of 1.5 hours per month over a three-month period. This is a commitment DBS aims to deliver on within the next six months, and continuously improve on.”

To adhere to MAS regulations, DBS confirmed its commitment to maintaining downtime for critical systems within a strict four-hour limit over any 12-month duration.

DBS also emphasized its intention to sustain its network of physical touchpoints, which includes branches, self-service banking machines (ATMs and video teller machines), and POSB Cash-Points at various merchant outlets like Giant, Cold Storage, 7-Eleven, and SingPost.

In cases of necessity, the bank revealed plans to open branches on Sundays and public holidays to provide an alternative service channel for its customers.

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta apologised for the series of digital disruptions

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta expressed sincere regret for the recent series of digital disruptions, further announcing the allocation of a dedicated budget of S$80 million (US$58.4 million) to reinforce system resilience.

“We are deeply sorry for the digital disruptions. Over the years, DBS has focused on digital transformation so as to make banking simple, seamless and effortless. ”

“However, we acknowledge that we must now do better to deliver on this, and are taking a multitude of actions across technology governance, people/leadership, systems and processes,” he stated.

“Our assurance to customers is that they can expect these actions to deliver concrete improvements in the near term and over time. In particular, apart from complying with regulatory requirements on system availability, we are committing to additional targets we are setting for ourselves on ensuring high service availability as well.”

Back in March, DBS leaders issued a similar apology, highlighting the unacceptability of customers encountering difficulties when trying to access digibank services, an issue that resurfaced 16 months after a similar incident in November 2021.

At that time, Mr Seah emphasized, ‘Our customers have every right to expect more of us.”

In November 2021, DBS faced a two-day disruption of its digital banking services, leading MAS to impose supplementary capital requirements on the bank.

Series of service disruptions plague DBS Bank, prompting MAS action

On 14 October this year, a significant service disruption at DBS occurred during which online banking and payment services encountered substantial outages. Customers also encountered challenges in withdrawing cash from ATMs.

On 20 October, there was a brief disruption to its services which was due to a cooling issue at a data centre which implicated various other companies.

Previously, the bank faced a significant 6½-hour service interruption on 5 May due to human error, and a prolonged 12-hour disruption in March attributed to software bugs.

Singapore’s President, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, in his former capacity as the Chairman of MAS, had addressed similar system resilience concerns in April and July this year over the past two disruptions experienced by DBS.

He emphasized that DBS had embarked on strategic enhancements to its digital banking system, underscoring the importance of robust access control, system redundancy, comprehensive monitoring, and efficient restoration processes.

However, despite these assurances, the recent incident underscores persistent gaps in the banks’ digital resilience strategies, raising questions about the efficacy of redundancy systems and preventative measures.

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Apologise for what? Heads need to roll and investigations need to be carried out. Even if it’s software hardware underwear, they must isolate the source and make heads roll. If it’s the CECA battalion, then they need to send them home, if it’s some other division then they must be sacked.

Vow? Vow lan jiao!
Seah himself knows he is just another crony at the end of the day and CECA Gupta village head by now, knows he is well shield by similar kinds of village cronies from Mumbai Bay Sands to Chennai Business Park!


Looooog overdue depavalee present

Why is CECA Trash from India CEO Gupta not apologising??? Too arrogant is it???
And what accountability??? How many CECA Trash from India have been fired???

Senior management accountability? What if these senior management are getting a few million dollars in compensation, beside bonuses? Just cut a few hundred thousand dollars they are still getting their millions & bonuses.

What is needed to compensate account users across the board say $50m to $80m for each breakdown, then that’s something.

Otherwise talk like no talk.

One long term remedy to this sticky problem may entail 1)immediately search and dismissed those incompetent and fake IT experts currently running the banks’ digital systems.2) Thereafter all future recruits must be accredited and licenced by an independent professional body to be established by MAS before they can be engaged by the banks to manage their digital systems.Hopefully this would keep out the fakes and rebuild the resiliency of SG digital banking system.Let’s see whether heads will roll @DBS and MAS.

From real life evidence and relativity of purposes, accountability is damn cheap and of the low class if one wishes to account for the PAP Administration’s accountability.

Look at examples of Gilbert, Jolovan, Roy, Chee, Lim T, Leong, Han HH – how much they were charged by the Judiciary to pay for their accountability of offences deemed offensive?

And it seems no one from the Administration’s has paid dearly for their accountabilities when even monetary losses of Billions, esp from national reserves disappeared.

So what is Sheegaporeans driving at?

Accountability??? Why the pappies very quiet on accountability now? Didn’t their hara-kiri expert said top management must bow and kill themselves if there were FAILURES under their supervision? Oh but that “expert” is now also MISSING after the falsification of SMT subscriptions, hor?

Dishonorable Boss begets dishonorable subordinates, indeed.

Please introduce Computer Science in all schools as a subject that is compulsory for at least two years. Secondly DBS may have expanded more than it can handle. Thirdly, by now it must be clear that the “talents,” involved in maintaining the digital system may not have the knowledge required to keep it going. Fourthly, what is the increase in profits or the projected increase in profits in switching to a digital system versus the phenomenal costs? Fifthly, 60 to 65% of the bank’s profits in the past decade is in Singapore so the largest bank in Asia with foreign… Read more »

How can it happened so many times?

One donkey tells us here they recruits all top leaders from Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford, Stanford? tsk tsk tsk

71& pineapple tart lovers:

This is good for you.

What do you think? Group Ta, not resigning? tsk tsk tsk

Last edited 6 months ago by john lim

As the chairman of dbs who collected billions of dollars, it is not the bank that failed to deliver. It is the chairman, and most of all, the CEO Gupta who had failed to deliver – time and again, repeatedly, for extended periods of time, and they both need to not just vow verbal accountability but resign in honor for their abject and gross leadership failure leading to all stakeholders, including customers and businesses who had relied on these leaders to deliver pristine performance. The loss in business revenue, the loss of trust, the opportunity costs and mostly critically –… Read more »

Who would resign? According to the cult, just follow behind the PM who oso not resigning or retiring. Can liao. Follow the leaders …. No?!?

Vows accountability??? How? Talk is cheap as always. Resign then, peter seah. Do the honorable thing and resign. No need to harakiri – accept accountability and just resign!

From top down human resources management and running a society, the PAP Administration has FAILED MASSIVELY. Very very massively. They believe utilising hardware, smart tech is the way to go – NONSENSE. F U. You only know how to pay Million Dollars Salary to your self to make YOU LOOK VALUABLE, money for your work. LJ. In Fact the MOST WORKABLE, Value for Money is SOFTWARE – this IS YOUR MISGUIDED strategy in emphasising hi tech as a CURE ALL before u even learn about bytes, integers, strings etc. BLIND MONSTERS knowing pure NUTS to brand SG as Smart NATION… Read more »

It is a good thing for the senior management to b responsible n since they being paid higher salary in the first place n not let the junior employees b responsible for the lapses.