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Tuesday, 14 December 2010 15:11

Commonwealth races to fix bank glitch

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The Commonwealth Bank is the latest of the big four banks to suffer an embarrassing computer glitch, affecting up to 5 per cent of its accounts and leading to problems with its online banking and ATM networks. However by noon the company was claiming the problem had been fixed - in stark contrast to the drawn out fix required by the NAB when its computing system imploded late last month.

Although the CBA's central switchboard was still advising callers that a system problem was causing delays in call centre response times at 1pm, a spokesman for the bank said that the underlying problem had been corrected by noon, but that the call centre was still battling a higher than usual number of calls as customers rang for information.

He said that the problem had arisen when; 'A file due to be processed overnight wasn't.'

A statement issued this afternoon by the bank noted that; 'As of noon (Sydney) the Commonwealth Bank finalised the processing of a late running file.  '

The bank claimed that the file primarily related to business customer accounts, but that a small number of retail customers had also been affected.

Processing the rogue file during the day forced the bank to temporarily suspend access to CommBiz and NetBank.  Its statement claimed that; 'The file has now completed processing, all accounts are now up to date and there is no impact to our online channels. '

The bank also acknowledged that; 'Customers whose accounts required data from the late running file may have had difficulty accessing cash though ATMs during processing this morning.  As the file has now been processed, this is no longer an issue for those customers. '


While the bank apologised to customers who had been inconvenienced, and also provided a number for customers who believed that they might have incurred fees or charges as a result of the computer glitch, it again demonstrates the extent to which the big banks rely on their underpinning computing systems.

The NAB still has a notice on its web site stating that while the majority of customer payments and transactions have been completed, and most account balances are up to date; 'We know that some customers are still experiencing inconsistencies and we're actively working to address these as soon as possible.'

That the CBA, arguably the furthest along the transition to a modern core banking system, can still fall victim to the failure of a batch process, demonstrates that the promise of failsafe bank computing is still a way off.

And with a raft of changes possible as a result of Wayne Swan's banking review, coupled with the requirement for banks to overhaul their systems to ensure compliance with Basel III over the coming years, banks' IT challenges will only increase.

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