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Singapore’s banking authority says DBS outage was ‘unacceptable’

A DBS Group Holdings Ltd. logo atop an automated teller machine (ATM) at a bank branch in Singapore, on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.
Lauryn Ishak | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Shares of Southeast Asia’s largest bank DBS Group

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said the outage was “unacceptable” and the lender had “fallen short of expectations.”

DBS was the largest loser in terms of index points on Singapore’s benchmark Straits Times Index

In a statement issued late Wednesday, MAS said it instructed DBS to “conduct a thorough investigation to establish the root cause of the disruption and submit its investigation findings to MAS.”

The central bank said it will gather the “necessary facts” before taking suitable action.

DBS’ digital services were disrupted from about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning to 5:45 p.m. Users were not able to access online banking services or make trades via its brokerage.

Late Wednesday, the bank then announced it would extend banking services at all its branches by two hours.

DBS sought to assureits customers that its systems were not compromised and clients’ deposits were safe.

In a statement on Wednesday, DBS CEO Piyush Gupta said the bank was “disappointed” with the incident, and added: “We hold ourselves to higher standards and it is our utmost priority to review the events of today.”

In November 2021, MAS imposed additional capital requirements on DBS after the bank’s digital banking services were disrupted for two days.

DBS had to apply a multiplier of 1.5 times to its risk-weighted assets for operational risk, which translated to 930 million Singapore dollars ($700 million) in additional regulatory capital.

It will “not be surprising” if MAS imposed a similar penalty on DBS for Wednesday’s outage, said Chong Beng Soon, associate professor at Nanyang Technological University’s college of business.

However, he doesn’t expect the incident to significantly impact consumer or investor confidence in the bank in the long run, he told CNBC.

The lender’s “strong banking franchise and reputation” will enable it to withstand any negative effect from this incident, he added.

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