MAS Directs DBS to Assess Staff and Tech Supporting Its Digital Banking Services

MAS Directs DBS to Assess Staff and Tech Supporting Its Digital Banking Services

by April 25, 2023

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has directed DBS to conduct an assessment of the staff, processes, and technology supporting its digital banking services following its prolonged disruption on 29 March 2023.

Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Senior Minister and Minister in charge of MAS Tharman Shanmugaratnam was asked in a parliamentary question on how the regulator has been working with the bank to identify and remedy its problems.

DBS has experienced two major disruptions in the past 16 months with the first in November 2021 and has since undertaken measures to mitigate the identified gaps.

The bank has focused on enhancing its access control architecture, by building in more redundancy, monitoring its key system components more closely and improving its system restoration processes.

Tharman added that DBS has also committed to strengthening its in-house technical expertise to facilitate faster response to system issues.

DBS was to complete the validation of these remediation actions and report its progress to MAS by July 2023.

Following the second disruption last month, DBS went on to establish a Special Independent Board Committee to oversee the investigation by qualified independent experts.

While the cause of the March 2023 incident appears to be software bugs that are unrelated to the previous disruption, the committee is overseeing a thorough investigation to determine if there are common underlying weaknesses that prevented a prompt recovery in both incidents.

MAS will take the necessary supervisory actions against DBS following the completion of the independent review.

“Given the growing scale and complexity of banks’ IT systems, we can nevertheless expect brief disruptions from time to time. When these disruptions do occur, banks must quickly identify the problem, swiftly restore access to their services, and communicate effectively, clearly and transparently to affected customers. MAS will continue to work closely with the industry to ensure the resilience of banks’ IT infrastructure to maintain stability and trust in the banking system.”

Since 2018, the seven domestic systemically important banks (D-SIBs) in Singapore have reported a total of 17 disruptions to their digital banking services that lasted more than one hour. The seven D-SIBs are DBS, OCBC, UOB, Standard Chartered, Citibank, HSBC and Maybank.

The root causes of these service disruptions are varied, ranging from lapses in managing system upgrades to software bugs and misconfigurations, in digital banking systems as well as back-end systems and components.