Eight digital banking disruptions from 4 major banks since July 2021: Tharman


SINGAPORE – There have been eight disruptions to digital banking services from four major banks since July last year, Chief Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policy Tharman Shanmugaratnam has said.

The incidents, reported by DBS Bank, OCBC Bank, UOB and Citibank, affected between 500 and 37,000 customers and were mostly resolved within three hours.

DBS faced the longest outage, lasting 39 hours, said Mr Tharman, who was responding on behalf of the prime minister in a written parliamentary response to Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC).

“The root causes of these incidents are mostly within the banks themselves – such as incorrect software configurations, system malfunctions and errors that were introduced when banks were making changes to the system,” he said. he said, adding that one of the incidents was related to a blackout. at a third-party cloud service provider.

Mr Tharman, who is also chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said the financial regulator takes all IT incidents that affect the availability of digital banking services seriously.

MAS requires banks to be able to recover systems supporting critical banking services such as funds transfers and payment services within four hours of any disruption.

Total unscheduled downtime for each critical system should not exceed four hours in a 12-month period, he said.

Banks that breach these requirements will face “supervisory action” from the MAS.

That may include requiring the bank to hold additional capital, Tharman said, citing the prolonged outage of DBS last November as an example.

DBS had to set aside an additional $930 million in capital to protect against unexpected losses and to remain solvent in the event of a crisis.

Mr Tharman also said that MAS had asked the bank to appoint an independent expert to carry out a full review of the incident, including its checks and recovery actions and how a similar incident can be avoided in the future.

He also ordered DBS to rectify any shortcomings identified during the review and implement measures to ensure that any future disruptions to its digital banking services are resolved promptly and adequately, he added.

“Recent incidents highlight the need for banks to continually review their IT resiliency strategy and ensure there is sufficient redundancy and fault tolerance built into their digital banking IT infrastructure.”


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