SINGAPORE – A problem with DBS Bank’s access control servers disrupted its online banking services, including PayNow, for the second day of Wednesday, November 24.
Reacting to the bank’s worst outage in more than a decade, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it would consider taking “supervisory action.”
“This is a serious disruption and the MAS expects DBS to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the root causes and implement the necessary corrective actions,” said Marcus Lim, deputy managing director of the bank and of MAS insurance.
“MAS will consider appropriate surveillance measures following the investigation,” he added in a statement Wednesday evening.
“MAS expects all financial institutions to have systems and processes in place to ensure the constant availability of financial services to their customers,” he said.
Under MAS regulations, financial institutions must ensure that the total unplanned downtime of critical systems affecting customer services does not exceed four hours in a 12 month period.
Banks must also notify MAS of any incident affecting critical systems within one hour.
In a video post to Facebook on Wednesday, DBS Country Director for Singapore, Shee Tse Koon, apologized to affected customers for causing them inconvenience and blamed faulty access control servers for the outage.
He did not elaborate on the details of the server failure.
Access control servers are part of a bank’s security system. They handle both login and payment verification using means such as biometrics, authentication tokens, and one-time passwords.
“Please be assured that my colleagues and I are doing everything possible to remedy the situation,” said Mr. Shee.
The disruption, which was first reported on Tuesday at around 10 a.m., is the worst DBS has seen since 2010, when a major systems failure interrupted all of DBS’s personal and business banking services. Customers were unable to withdraw money from vending machines or make payments at points of sale for approximately seven hours.
Mr Shee assured customers on Wednesday that cash deposits belonging to DBS and POSB customers are safe and that transactions can still be done in person at bank branches or over the phone.
The bank said services were fully restored at around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, but the same issue recurred later, with users complaining that they could not log into the app and website around 9 a.m. .
“I know many of you have had difficulty accessing our digital banking services. I realize this is a cause for worry and frustration, and I am so sorry for the inconvenience and anxiety. that it caused, ”said Mr. Shee.
He added: “Although the situation is less serious than yesterday, we know that many of you still cannot access it. We recognize the seriousness of the situation and as we work to resolve the issues, we appeal to your patience and understanding. “
At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, users reported that certain features such as ATM withdrawals, card payments and DBS PayLah! were working, but the DBS website and mobile app were still inaccessible.
At 10:35 p.m., DBS said its digital banking services were “back to normal,” adding that it was closely monitoring the situation to make sure all services were functioning properly.
Home baker Adeline Tan, 25, who sells her products on Instagram, is among those affected by the disruption.
“Some of my clients weren’t able to make a payment through PayNow today, but they are my regular clients, so I agree that they don’t pay yet because I hope they will pay once that their DBS applications will work, ”she said. .
“I usually pay my egg supplier through PayNow as well and haven’t been able to do that since yesterday, but he has been very understanding.”
Administrative assistant Clarice Pereira, 55, had to cancel a reservation she made for a nurse to take care of her brother, who had a stroke, this weekend.
The service required payment to confirm the reservation, and DBS is the only bank it uses for internet banking, she said.
Ms Pereira was able to find a different department who agreed to accept payment later, but said the incident prompted her to look for services at other banks.
“It taught me not to depend on a single bank for Internet banking,” she added.
While DBS customers outside of Singapore also could not access their Singapore-based accounts, those whose accounts had been opened at the bank’s overseas branches were not affected.
DBS spokespersons in Hong Kong, India and Indonesia told the Straits Times that their services faced no disruption.
The bank also denied rumors that the disruption in Singapore was linked to the sale of treasury bills in Myanmar.
DBS said in a tweet on Wednesday: “There have been rumors that the disruption of DBS’s digibanking service is linked to the sale of treasury bills by the Myanmar National Unity Government. There is no truth to this. DBS did not sell any of these bonds.
A number of media outlets in Myanmar reported that the disruption was caused by a high volume of transactions after Myanmar nationals used DBS and POSB online services to purchase zero-rated bonds issued by the Government of National Unity. (NUG).
Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday that NUG raised US $ 6.3 million (S $ 8.6 million) on the day it opened its first bond sale on Monday to mostly Burmese nationals in abroad.
NUG’s goal is to raise US $ 1 billion for a “revolution” to overthrow the military government that seized power in a coup in February.
Past service outages in Singapore banks
UOB customers were unable to access Internet and mobile banking services for approximately two hours. The bank apologized for the incident but did not provide details on what caused it.
Some DBS customers have experienced difficulty accessing the DBS Ideal Business Banking portal for about a day. DBS said a small number of its corporate customers were experiencing “intermittent delays,” but did not specify the cause of the problem.
UOB’s ATMs, card payments, internet banking and mobile apps were shut down for about two hours. The bank apologized for the incident but did not provide details on what caused it.
OCBC’s ATM network, online banking channels, Nets and card services were disrupted for about three hours. The OCBC said a software failure prevented the bank’s systems from accepting new data, and subsequent human oversight ensured that the problem was not detected for earlier rectification.
UOB apologized for a five-minute interruption to its ATM services.
Human error during maintenance work caused an island-wide disruption of service for the Nets cashless payment system owned by DBS, OCBC and UOB. The disruption lasted nearly two hours.
Several DBS and POSB ATMs were out of service for an indefinite period. DBS did not disclose the total number of affected ATMs or the cause of the problem.
UOB’s ATM and Net services were interrupted for about an hour due to a technical issue.
A system-wide technical issue plagued OCBC’s ATMs, card payments and internet banking platforms for more than four hours. A faulty connectivity device was blamed for the problem, which “prevented the main banking system from properly connecting to the various front-end banking systems,” OCBC said at the time.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) reprimanded the bank and ordered it to conduct extensive reviews of its systems.
An improper maintenance procedure by IBM engineers caused a major system failure that interrupted all personal and business banking services at DBS. Customers were unable to withdraw money from vending machines or make payments at points of sale for approximately seven hours.
The bank was censored by MAS and had to set aside an additional $ 230 million in regulatory capital for operational risk.