Australian newspapers and television stations are reporting that possibly millions of customers of National Australia Bank (NAB) have been affected by a computer problem that began Wednesday around 0400 and will have residual effects lasting into at least Friday, according to NAB's press release.
According to this story at Herald Sun, the unspecified mainframe computer glitch "... meant payments into most National Australia Bank accounts - and services including EFTPOS and ATMs - were frozen and did not occur."
[Update: A story in Friday morning's Sydney Morning Herald states that the outage "... was caused by a corrupted file during the routine processing of overnight transactions on Wednesday. Sources inside the bank said the issue had affected all level of transactions, from retail to wholesale." The story also says that the bank is now not promising when the problem will be totally fixed.]
In addition, the Herald Sun story says,
"The mainframe computer malfunction came on the worst day of the week for the National Australia Bank customers, the day when client payrolls are processed, as are millions of Centrelink payments."
According to ABCNews in Australia,
"NAB says the payments will go through in full once the IT problem is fixed, and adds that customers will not be charged by the bank for slipping into negative balances or failing to make payments because it has already abolished dishonour fees."
"However, the bank's statement does not say whether it will compensate customers who are charged late payment fees by third parties due to the payments glitch."
The Herald Sun reports that the bank has some 11 million customers.
NAB Chief Executive Cameron Clyne was quoted as apologizing to the bank's customers for the inconvenience.
CEO Clyne also said,
"Unfortunately for a large organisation these things happen from time to time."
What a refreshingly honest - if possibly impolitic - statement for a change. I wonder how soon CEO Clyne will be taken to task for it?
[Update2: A story dated Saturday, the 27th of November, in The Age says that NAB's problems have spread to other banks in Australia, including Commonwealth Bank, ANZ Bank, HSBC Bank and Citi. The story says "... millions of Australians face the weekend without ability to access their funds or pay."
The story says that NAB is now saying it may be early next week before the problems are totally fixed and all of its customers get access to their funds. In addition, it will be up to customers to notify NAB if anything is still awry with their accounts.
NAB in a press release says that it will be adding staff and keeping more of its branches open on Saturday to try to help customers who may be having financial difficulties as a result of the problems.]
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.