Photo by Jeff Thomas II.

DBS apologises for digital bank disruptions, to dock senior management pay

The bank is allotting a special budget of S$80m to enhance its system resiliency.

DBS has issued an apology for the series of digital banking disruptions earlier in 2023, and is enacting structural changes to strengthen its digital resiliency.

In a statement, Singapore’s biggest bank by assets said that it has rolled out a comprehensive roadmap to improve technology resiliency, encompassing both immediate and longer-term measures to strengthen technology governance, people/leadership, systems and processes.

ALSO READ: DBS prohibited from buying new businesses or closing branches for 6 months

The bank is allotting a special budget of S$80m to enhance its system resiliency.

Other changes implemented include the formation of a new sub-committee called the BRMC Technology Risk Committee, which will have dedicated oversight of technology risk. The new subcommittee will also oversee the implementation of the remedial measures that DBS will carry out to address the findings of the Accenture review.

DBS has also split its technology and operations functions into two separate units to allow for dedicated management oversight of both. Jimmy Ng, who is currently chief information officer and group head of T&O, will assume the role of group head of operations. 

Han Kwee Juan will remain as Singapore Country Head whilst double-hatting as Acting CIO in the interim as the bank searches for a new CIO. Sim S. Lim, who is currently a senior adviser to DBS, will temporarily return to manage the day-to-day operations of the Singapore organisation whilst Han focuses on the CIO role.

DBS has also made a new head of enterprise architecture site reliability engineering (EASRE) role beginning 18 October, and has named Ho Twee Teng to the role. 

The bank has also created a new Quality Assurance function within EASRE to provide an additional independent layer of verification, controls and checks over the bank’s change management process.

Other improvements are expected to reflect or be completed over the next 12 to 24 months.

ALSO READ: DBS clinches most investment banking fees in Singapore

Chairman, CEO apologises
DBS Chairman Peter Seah and CEO Gupta both apologized for the disruptions.
In a statement, DBS Chairman Peter Seah said that with the digital banking disruptions the past year, the bank had “failed to live up to expectations” of accessing banking services conveniently any time of the day.

“The Board apologises for the digital banking disruptions,” Seah said. “As an acknowledgement that the bank could have done better, senior management will be held accountable, and this will be reflected in their compensation.”

Gupta, meanwhile, acknowledged that the bank must do better to deliver on its promise of making banking “simple, seamless, and effortless.”

“We are deeply sorry for the digital disruptions,” Gupta said, adding that the bank is taking a multitude of actions across technology governance, people/leadership, systems and processes.

Our assurance to customers is that they can expect these actions to deliver concrete improvements in the near term and over time. In particular, apart from complying with regulatory requirements on system availability, we are committing to additional targets we are setting for ourselves on ensuring high service availability as well,” Gupta added.

Shortly following the first round of disruptions in March and in May, DBS had appointed Accenture as an independent third-party to carry out a root cause investigation. DBS has since applied recommendations from the review, which ended in August. 

ALSO READ: DBS, SkillsFuture SG ink two-year partnership to boost green skills in SMEs

Service recovery improvements
DBS is also rolling out and implementing new targets to improve service availability and service recovery over the longer term.

The bank shared plans to ensure that three key services–balance enquiry, overseas payments and domestic payments– can be accessed through other DBS digital channels.

DBS has also pledged to limit downtime teo no more than an average of 1.5 hours per month over a three-month period. DBS is promising to deliver this within the next six months.

In the event of a disruption, DBS is aiming to recover the disrupted service on either digibank online, digibank mobile, or PayLah! Within three hours. DBS is targeting to implement this improved recovery time over the next 24 months.

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