‘Terrible’ CommBank 4 days behind with payments

Ian Rogers Financial institutions / Big five & fintech

It will be some time this morning – four days after strife at CBA began – that processing of “the large majority of [missed] payments [will] have been completed and in customers’ accounts”.

Or so Commonwealth Bank’s social media team were advising customers late last night and this morning, seeking to pacify one customer on Twitter: “I know this is a terrible experience”.

The rest of an unknown but large number of missed payments from last Thursday are “likely processed by end-of-day,” meaning late today, CBA said in another message.

This episode is a hallmark of what the Reserve Bank politely labels as “the reliability of retail payment services” – meaning the opposite.

The bank’s data “shows a significant jump in retail operational outages in 2018 following a few years of improved performance,” the RBA wrote in the annual report for its Payments System Board late last week.

“Higher outage time reflected rises in both the number of incidents and the average duration of incidents (that is, the average time taken to restore services),” the PSB said.

Nearly all institutions experienced an increase in outage time over the year to June 2019.

By retail channel, around half of the number of service outages in 2018 occurred in either online or mobile banking, the PSB said, whereas outages affecting card payments accounted for around 10 per cent of the total.

Some banks also experienced outages affecting their NPP services.

“Annualised data for the first half of 2019 indicate that total outage time remains at an elevated level, with a rise in the number of incidents offsetting a decline in their average duration,” the PSB said.

The PSB closed this section of its annual report with a warning to the industry.

“If operational incidents continue to rise, then the Board could consider imposing operational resilience standards, as some other jurisdictions have done.”