DBS Bank customers hit by outage

update Due to "technical difficulties", users of Singapore's largest banking network were unable to perform transactions Monday morning at branches, ATMs or via its online and mobile services.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

update SINGAPORE--"Technical difficulties" brought Singapore's largest banking network to a halt Monday morning, as customers were unable to access branch, ATM (automated teller machine), Internet and mobile banking services.

In an e-mail statement to ZDNet Asia, DBS Bank said DBS and POSB banking services here were "temporarily affected". It did not disclose how long the outage lasted but said branch and ATM services were restored by 10 in the morning. Some local media reports said the disruption occurred at around 6.30 a.m.

"Banking services for DBS and POSB in Singapore were temporarily affected early this morning due to technical difficulties," a DBS spokesperson said. "As of 10 a.m., all DBS/POSB ATMs and branch services have been restored.

"Customers are assured that all funds are safe and the bank is working to restore all other services as soon as possible."

DBS did not respond to ZDNet Asia's queries on the exact cause of the service outage as well as redundancy measures.

At the time of writing, online and mobile banking services were still reportedly unavailable, although funds transfers from DBS to other banks were successful at about 12.20 p.m. local time.

Throughout the morning, the bank posted several updates via its Web site and Twitter account to keep customers notified of the status of the downtime.

Twitter also saw a steady stream of updates and comments on the island-wide outage. A tweet by user Adrian Hong read: "POSB/DBS ATM, Nets (Network for Electronic Transfers Singapore) service, credit card, debit card, bank hotlines, ibanking all over Singapore are down. This is the world-class service!"

Another user, Kevin Lim, tweeted: "Banks are supposed to have redundant systems for 99 percent uptime. DBS has lost customers' trust."

DBS later issued a follow-up statement, which said the bank detected the problem at 3 a.m. Monday morning. David Gledhill, DBS' managing director and head of group technology and operations, noted that this was the first time a problem of this nature occurred.

"The bank has multiple levels of redundancy to protect against such occurrences," Gledhill said in the statement. "We are now conducting a full-scale investigation with our main vendor IBM."

"We deeply regret the inconvenience caused and once again would like to assure our customers that DBS is continually reviewing and revising its resiliency and redundancy plans in line with developments and advancements in technology," he said.

Local media also quoted Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Group, who noted the bank has multiple redundancies built into its systems. He added it was "quite perplexing" why the redundancies did not kick in as expected.

In one of the reports, IBM said Monday's incident was the result of a systems outage and that Big Blue had worked with DBS immediately to restore services.

DBS has over 900 ATMs in Singapore, and had nearly 970,000 online banking customers as at February 2008. Between September 2000 and February 2001, the bank suffered two technical glitches that brought its systems down for 90 minutes and 45 minutes, respectively.

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