Embattled banks suffer slings and arrows

Bank customers have faced more than a little inconvenience in the past week or so as systems at first the Bank of New Zealand and then EDS packed up. On August 27 there was a processing failure at the BNZ, then a communications failure which briefly hit North Island BNZ branches, then processing problems at EDS last Tuesday night, which affected a range of transactions at the ASB and other banks.

Bank customers have faced more than a little inconvenience in the past week or so as systems at first the Bank of New Zealand and then EDS packed up.

On August 27 there was a processing failure at the BNZ, which the bank's corporate relations department says may have affected some customers. "This affected some automatic payments or salary payments that would have been processed during the period," the bank says in a statement. "No customer will be financially penalised as a result of the incident. Any interest paid or earned on accounts affected will be automatically adjusted." The bank will reverse fees for anyone who had a cheque for automatic payment dishonoured.

However, the problem may not be resolved. A Wellington restaurateur told Computerworld last Wednesday that customers' BNZ Eftpos cards were consistently rejected the weekend after the processing failure was discovered, and even that day.

BNZ strategic support manager Chris Miles says there were no problems on the Friday. "The difficulty is that [cards] it's done on an individual customer basis." He says the processing failure occurred on the New Zealand systems warehoused in Australia.

"Our application support staff were not notified at that point of failure," he says. "The problem was miniscule — less than a couple of percent of our total nightly volume."

There was another problem last Wednesday — a communications failure in the morning affecting the bank's North Island branches for 20 minutes. "We had to revert to manual procedures. It was a third-party software problem." ASB Bank customers were the next to suffer when EDS experienced pro-cessing problems last Tuesday night. Some other banks were affected too, says an EDS spokeswoman. "It was a range of all types of transactions.

We're not sure what the problem was, and we're looking into it. There was a delay for a few hours."

Later, she told Computerworld to contact International Settlements (ISL). However, ISL was not contactable other than through a voicemail greeting.

Commenting about the EDS processing failure, Miles says the only problems caused to BNZ were delays that made some statements available late. "There was no visible input to customers. It was only the statements."

It's the third incident within a year of EDS's processing falling over. Close to Christmas last year the whole banking system was affected twice, put down eventually to a problem with an EMC controller.

The latest incident was resolved quickly. ASB Bank customers had access to their funds by lunchtime last Wednesday.

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