Mar 28, 2023
Singapore’s DBS Suffers Digital Banking Disruption
(Bloomberg) -- DBS Group Holdings Ltd.’s digital banking and payment services were restored after an outage that lasted about 10 hours, in a throwback to more than a year ago when Southeast Asia’s biggest bank faced one of its worst tech outages.
“DBS/POSB digibank mobile and online, DBS PayLah! and DBS mTrading services have returned to normal” as of 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday in Singapore, the lender said in a statement. The bank is closely monitoring the situation, it said, without giving more details.
“We acknowledge the gravity of the situation,” DBS Chief Executive Piyush Gupta said in an emailed statement. “It is our utmost priority to review the events of today.”
Shares of DBS were little changed Wednesday, closing 0.1% lower.
Earlier, DBS extended branch operations by two hours as it worked to recover digital services and a spokesperson clarified that the issue was limited to Singapore.
“Please be assured that your deposits and monies are safe and secure,” the bank had said in a Facebook post earlier in the day.
While unusual for a sector known for its constant availability, Wednesday’s incident is reminiscent of the outage the bank suffered in 2021 — one of its worst digital disruptions in the past decade. Under Monetary Authority of Singapore regulations, financial institutions need to ensure that the maximum unscheduled downtime for each critical system doesn’t exceed four hours within any period of 12 months.
In a statement late Wednesday, the MAS said the disruption of DBS’ digital services was “unacceptable” especially after a similar incident in November 2021. The regulator has instructed the bank to conduct a thorough investigation to find out its root cause.
“DBS has fallen short of MAS’ expectations to maintain high system availability and ensure its IT systems are recovered expeditiously,” the authority said. “MAS will take the commensurate supervisory actions after gathering the necessary facts.”
Customers began reporting issues with the bank’s digital services a little after 7 a.m. local time, according to Downdetector.
Last year, the MAS ordered DBS to set aside S$930 million ($700 million) of regulatory capital after the 2021 episode left thousands of customers unable to log on to its digital platforms for at least two days. Those issues stemmed from the bank’s access control servers.
The MAS has asked DBS to validate the bank’s remedial actions with regards to the 2021 event by July this year, DBS said earlier this week.
--With assistance from Andrea Tan, Jamie Tarabay, Natalie Choy and Tom Metcalf.
(Adds DBS CEO comment to third paragraph)
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