OCBC reports digital banking and payment services disruption, citing ‘intermittent slowness’

SINGAPORE: On Tuesday (Nov 7), certain customers encountered difficulties using OCBC’s app and PayNow service due to what the bank described as “intermittent slowness.”

The issue was officially acknowledged by OCBC on its app, with a notification posted on the login page.

“You may have difficulty accessing our banking and payment services. We are sorry for any inconvenience and are working to bring things back to normal as soon as possible,” it said.

Several users attempting to initiate a PayNow transfer were unable to select a recipient, receiving a notification indicating that the designated contact was not registered with the service.

In response to several complaints on its Facebook page, the bank stated, “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused. Our systems are experiencing intermittent slowness. Please try accessing the services again at a later time. Thank you for your understanding.”

On OCBC’s social media platform X (formerly Twitter), certain users reported being unable to use PayNow, and encountering errors during payment attempts.

The bank’s official X account administrator responded, expressing sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused, and advised users to try accessing the service again at a later time.

MAS imposes 6-month freeze on DBS Bank’s IT changes due to repeated disruptions

On 1 November, The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has taken significant actions against DBS Bank Ltd (DBS Bank) in response to repeated and prolonged disruptions in its digital banking services this year.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan yesterday (6 Nov) revealed in Parliament that the disruption to DBS and Citibank’s digital services on October 14 led to an estimated 810,000 failed attempts to access the digital banking platforms of both banks between 2.54 p.m. and 4.47 a.m. the following day.

Additionally, approximately 2.5 million payments and ATM transactions were left uncompleted.

Mr Tan acknowledged that both DBS and Citibank had not met the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) requirements to ensure the resilience of their critical IT systems against extended disruptions.

“While both banks conducted annual exercises to test the recovery of their IT systems at the back-up data centres, the specific issues that led to the delays in system recovery on 14 October did not surface during those tests.”

In terms of measures for ensuring banking service reliability, Mr Tan emphasized that the Banking Act grants MAS the power to impose fines of up to $100,000 on financial institutions found in breach of MAS’ technology risk management requirements.

Furthermore, with the implementation of the Financial Services and Markets Act in 2022, the maximum fine quantum is set to rise to $1 million progressively in the following year.

Although this fine quantum is relatively lower compared to penalties imposed by financial regulators in other countries like the UK, it aligns with existing local penalty frameworks, such as those under the Telecommunications Act and the Personal Data Protection Act, added Mr Tan.

Mr Tan emphasized that banks hold responsibility towards their customers, but matters of compensation should be resolved directly between the bank and its customers, considering the individual circumstances involved.

MAS expects banks to adhere to a fair process in handling such cases.

During the parliamentary session, Members of Parliament raised questions about the effectiveness of the restriction on new business acquisitions, particularly considering DBS’s absence of any acquisition plans initially.

In reply, Mr Tan reiterated that the regulatory actions were intended to direct the banks’ focus towards restoring the resilience of their digital banking services.

This initiative involves addressing four key areas identified in a review conducted by an independent external expert in August of the current year. The identified areas include technology risk governance and oversight, incident management, strengthening systems resilience, and change management.

“The review will take place, we will look at what the banks have put in place during this period, how they are remediating… and MAS will potentially impose more measures as necessary,” he said.

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