Commonwealth Bank outage: find out what happened
Last Thursday a lot of Australians faced severe problems. Many of Commonwealth Bank’s clients were not able to literally buy food, gasoline, or even pay for a taxi.
PaySpace Magazine decided to figure out what could cause so much trouble, and whether it was the first time Commonwealth Bank had messed up. We have also prepared a shortlist of lifehacks on how not to fall victim of a bank malfunction.
Australia’s largest bank was hit by an outage. It happened around noon last Thursday. The bank representatives couldn’t assess how much time they needed to fix it up even at 8 pm. The worst thing about it is the fact that a lot of clients have been left stranded cashless in shops, locked out of branches, unable to buy necessities or even pay for taxis in foreign countries. Plenty of people have literally been left without food and gasoline because there was no way for their salaries to come through. Some people even used the word “embarrassed”, which indicates desperation and fury. The outage affected the bank’s mobile app, internet banking platform, BPAY, branch services, and call centers.
Commonwealth Bank claimed that some application’s and net banking features had been recovered by 9 pm, but it was far from the full range of services. ATMs and POS terminals were in working order, but it was pointless since debit card payments were impacted. Commonwealth Bank decided to close a lot of physical branches, and these measures were rather compulsory ones. The bank, of course, claimed that they “are working hard to fix the problem”, and extended their apology, but apparently, it was not enough for furious customers.
The problem was fixed by Friday night. However, a lot of Australians were not able to receive their payments, since nobody was going to send wages on Friday night, and most companies didn’t carry out salary/financial transactions on Saturday.
Is it true that Commonwealth Bank deposits $50 into customers’ accounts?
Actually, the outage lasted a few hours. Nevertheless, it cost the Commonwealth Bank around $7.5M. Mostly, it is about the fact that plenty of clients were left without wages that weekend. Now back to the topic we’ve just touched: yes, the largest financial institution in the country has transferred $50 to no less than 150,000 clients affected by the outage. Moreover, the transfers came with attached messages in the “transaction details” section: “Sorry from CBA”.
The representatives of the bank said that they believed funds should be in customer accounts. Thus, if clients have any issues or questions regarding their payments they should contact the call center or visit a branch. Numerous clients responded that the outage affected call centers as well, and it was impossible to reach the customer support service while they had a real need for it. Moreover, a number of branches were closed, so such apologies are rather inappropriate.
About a bank
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (also known as CBA or CommBank) is the largest Australian bank, and it was founded in 1911 as a government bank. However, it became a public company in 1991. The financial institution offers financial services to individuals and businesses. Consumer services include bank and saving accounts, credit cards and loans. Internet banking is available under the NetBank label for consumers and CommBiz for business customers.
Not the first time
Maybe outages are a new type of problem for Commonwealth Bank of Australia, but let’s remember that in 2018 the bank lost tapes with data backups of nearly 20M customers. The names, addresses, account numbers and statements were stored on two magnetic tapes that were supposed to be destroyed in 2016. However, when the bank submitted documents to the Australian Security Exchange two years later, it could not confirm that the data had indeed been destroyed.
The bank’s management assured customers that their information did not fall into the hands of fraudsters, but it sounded a little unconvincing, since a lot of clients have been expressing concerns about the situation.
And even this scandal was not the first one. As it turns out, Commonwealth Bank of Australia collected fees from customers it knew had died. In April 2018, CBA told a public hearing that some of its financial planners had billed services to deceased clients. In one case, an adviser collected fees from a former client for more than a decade.
What I have to do to be prepared for a bank outage?
- First of all – don’t panic. You can’t really be prepared for such a thing as bank outage (mentally, of course), and there is no reason to be prepared. We mean what kind of life does a person live when they permanently wait for some kind of trouble (outage, robbery, car crash)? Contact your financial institution and try to figure out what’s happening. If you need money to pay your bills on time but you can’t get funds because of an outage (and this is a bank’s fault), then you can try to discuss late fees or a different payment timeline with your creditor.
- Yes, we’ve told you that there is no way to be prepared for an outage. However, we should confess – there is really one old-school method. And you should use it in multiple cases since is not just about outage. It is good for any kind of cashless system malfunctions. And the answer is stash. Yes, have a stash of cash. It is always good to have a little cash handy since you never know what might happen with your debit/credit cards, ATMs, POS terminals, and the entire system.
- Plan B, meaning other payment methods. Consider PayPal, for example. If your bank doesn’t operate properly, you can always use an alternative payment method (if you have one).