MUMBAI: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked HDFC Bank to stop launches of new digital business activity and not to add new credit card customers following repeated outages in its electronic banking services. The lender has also asked the bank’s board to examine the lapses and fix accountability.
The country’s largest private bank informed the stock exchange on Wednesday that the order from the RBI was issued on December 2, and was in response to outages in the bank’s internet banking/ mobile banking/ payment utilities over the past two years. The most recent outage took place on November 21 when many customers could not access their digital banking. The bank blamed this on a power failure in its primary data centre.
“The RBI vide said Order has advised the Bank to temporarily stop i) all launches of the digital business generating activities planned under its program ‐ Digital 2.0 (to be launched) and other proposed business generating IT applications and (ii) sourcing of new credit card customers. In addition, the order states that the Bank’s Board examines the lapses and fixes accountability,” HDFC Bank said in a letter to the stock exchanges.
The bank’s group head of IT and CIO Munish Mittal had put in his papers in July 2020. Last month the bank had named Ramesh Lakshminarayanan of Crisil as its new CIO.
Although HDFC Bank has said that the problem was a one-off issue, customers have been taking to the social media to complain against an issue with server delays with regard to receipt of one-time password and authorisation of transactions.
HDFC Bank in a statement said that it has taken several measures to fortify its IT systems and will continue to move swiftly to close out the balance and to engage with the regulator in this regard. This is the first time RBI has taken such a drastic action against a large bank. HDFC Bank is the most digital of all Indian lenders and sees over 90% of transactions through non-branch channels.
“The bank has endeavoured to provide seamless banking services to its customers. The bank has been taking conscious, concrete steps to remedy the recent outages on its digital banking channels and assures its customers that it expects the current supervisory actions will have no impact on its existing credit cards, digital banking channels and existing operations. The bank believes that these measures will not materially impact its overall business,” the statement said.