DBS CEO, who received S$15.4 million in pay in 2022, feels embarrassed over technical disruption

DBS CEO, who received S$15.4 million in pay in 2022, feels embarrassed over technical disruption

SINGAPORE — It was reported last Friday (31 Mar) that DBS CEO Piyush Gupta felt embarrassed at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the second disruption to its digital banking services, occurring in 16 months or less than 1.5 years.

“As such a well-known digital and technology bank, this embarrasses us. We are committed to doing better,” Gupta said.

“Ensuring uninterrupted digital banking services 24/7 has been our key priority. Unfortunately, we fell short of it and are truly sorry.”

As a result of the outage, DBS’ digibank online and mobile services, PayLah app and investment platform DBS Vickers were unavailable to customers on Wednesday (29 Mar).

By the end of Wednesday, only about half of its customers were able to get online.

The same incident happened in November 2021. At the time, Gupta said he would shore up its engineering team and strengthen its recovery protocols. “But unfortunately, it was not enough,” he admitted.

Chairman Peter Seah bows to apologise

During the AGM, DBS chairman Peter Seah had to bow to shareholders, apologising on behalf of the bank.

Calling the incident “very unfortunate” and “disappointing”, he said, “Our customers have every right to expect more of us. So, underscoring the gravity of the matter, we will be convening a special board committee with immediate effect to conduct a full and detailed investigation of the incident.”

Mr Seah said they would be engaging “external experts with broad and deep experience in overseeing large-scale IT systems and operations to work with the committee”.

“I have full confidence that they will be thorough and exacting in their review and recommendations,” he added.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) also weighed in to condemn DBS last Wednesday.

Calling the incident “unacceptable”, MAS said it takes seriously the reliability of banks’ critical IT systems and added that DBS has fallen short to “maintain high system availability and ensure its IT systems are recovered expeditiously”.

“MAS will take the commensurate supervisory actions after gathering the necessary facts,” it said.

History of technical issues in DBS

Wednesday’s disruption was the latest in a spate of incidents in recent years where DBS found itself in hot water over its digital banking services.

For the 2021 digital outage, DBS was slapped with a requirement to set aside an additional S$930 million in regulatory capital last year. That incident caused disruption to the bank’s digital services for three days.

And in 2010, MAS similarly penalised DBS for yet another digital outage, disrupting its digital banking services.

DBS also came under fire in June 2021 over a payment processing glitch that caused some customers to be charged twice on their credit and debit cards.

Two weeks ago (24 March), high volume of logins caused PayLah users to face delays in receiving their cashback when they made payments to claim a S$3 meal subsidy offered by the bank.

Meanwhile, the bank’s annual report released last month (10 March 2023) shows that Gupta’s total pay for last year increased by 13.2 per cent to S$15.4 million.

His pay package included club, car and driver benefits. In 2021, his total pay was S$13.6 million, and the year before, S$9.2 million.

Ironically in the report, Gupta said that DBS needs to continue strengthening its technology in areas such as site reliability engineering.

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments