HDFC Bank Pulled Up by RBI for Multiple Outages of its Digital Services
By: Ashwathy Nair
- RBI made an exception by elaborating on the step they took while highlighting the need for strengthening technology.
- Customers using digital banking cannot be put into difficulty.
- Actions become unavoidable and inevitable.
On Friday, during the post-policy media interaction with RBI (Reserve Bank of India) Governor Shaktikanta Das, the regulatory clampdown on HDFC Bank came up prominently. While the RBI normally distinguishes itself from commenting on individual banks, it made an exception this time by explaining why the move was taken, while highlighting the need to improve the sector’s technology by investing more in it.
The RBI must serve as a custodian of the digital payment section, Das pointed out in defence of the action taken by the central bank. “You see for hours together, we can’t bring thousands or lakhs of customers who use digital banking in some kind of trouble… Especially when we placed so much focus on digital banking ourselves, it is important to maintain public trust in digital banking,” Das stated in response to questions on its order issued to HDFC Bank a day earlier.
While pointing out towards RBI that it will be continuing to engage with banks and NBFCs on the improvement of technology, it was stated by the government that “In certain cases, certain types of acts are served or certain actions become necessary and inevitable.” He stated this as the regulator and as the custodian of the country’s digital payment section, “the central bank must also act. And we just did that”. The move by the RBI is to prevent the bank from further increasing its digital projects and the credit card base was a deviation from its normal monetary penalty for lapses.
In the digital banking and credit card space, it is being attributed by the RBI that its shift in stance is towards the lenders “overwhelming presence”.
“In order to stay competitive in the coming years, Technology is important, and the robustness of your IT system is key. Banks, NBFCs and other financial institutions, therefore need to invest more in their IT systems, invest more in technology and improve all their systems to sustain public confidence.”
The action of RBI came forward after the customers of the bank over the past two years have faced several cases of outages in internet banking, mobile banking, and payment services. For example, on 21st November, users were adversely affected by outages in its internet banking and payment system due to a power failure in the primary data centre. The RBI is also checking why the YONO application from the State Bank of India went down. But there is still no clarification as to whether action against the state-owned lender would take place.