DBS Bank faces six-month suspension following October’s banking disruptions

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has suspended DBS Bank from making non-essential IT changes, pursuing new businesses, or reducing its branch and ATM networks for six months. This follows a banking disruption in October caused by a technical glitch at the Equinix data center. The suspension aims to focus DBS’s efforts on improving the robustness of its digital banking services.

On October 14, 2023, a cooling system error at the Equinix data center during a planned system upgrade caused outages at DBS and Citibank, disrupting 2.5 million payment transactions. The outage lasted about two days in Singapore, a city heavily reliant on digital finance, and left online banking apps fully or partially unavailable. The outage resulted in 810,000 failed attempts to access the two platforms and prevented 2.5 million payment and ATM transactions from being completed.

Equinix attributed the glitch to a contractor who incorrectly signaled to close valves from the chilled water buffer tanks. Both DBS and Citibank activated their IT disaster recovery and business continuity plans, but technical difficulties hindered full recovery at their backup data centers. The downtime exceeded MAS’s resilience requirements for critical IT systems, surpassing the authority’s limit of four hours within any 12-month period.

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As a result, MAS imposed penalties on DBS, including a six-month prohibition on reducing its branch and ATM network size, making non-essential IT changes, and acquiring new businesses. Additionally, MAS required DBS to apply a multiplier of 1.8 times to its risk-weighted assets for operational risk.

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