HDFC Bank outage: RBI seeks details

The regulator has sought details behind the data centre outage that meant services on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), ATMs and card channels were unavailable for several hours.

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has sought an explanation from HDFC Bank about an interruption in digital services from Saturday evening to early Sunday morning, said people aware of the communication. This is the third disruption of digital services that HDFC Bank customers have faced in the past two years, causing many of them to vent on social media.

The regulator has sought details behind the data centre outage that meant services on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), ATMs and card channels were unavailable for several hours.

“The regulator has sought details and the reasons behind the data centre outage. Depending on the report submitted by the bank, an internal RBI team will examine it and take further steps,” one of the persons said. “The concern especially is that three big system blackouts happened within two years despite the bank saying last time it had updated its processes and systems.”


HDFC Bank and RBI didn’t respond to queries.

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RBI Team may Visit Data Centre to Examine Issue
The bank tweeted that services had been restored but customers could still face “intermittent issues as the system stabilises.”

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In December last year, the RBI had said a team of experts was examining the breakdown of HDFC Bank’s digital banking channels that occurred early that month, causing millions of customers to be locked out of their net and mobile banking accounts for over 48 hours.

The bank had faced a similar outage on its mobile application in 2018, while launching a new version.

“Most likely an RBI team could also visit the data centre and examine what went wrong, and then suggest measures to be taken,” said an official. “It’s quite surprising that a bank of this size is facing such regular outages.”

One person said the bank had told payment industry partners that the issue pertained to a power outage at one of its major data centres. “If true, it begs to be asked why a bank the size of HDFC doesn’t have a backup power source?” the person said.

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As of September 30, the bank had 15,292 ATMs in 2,848 cities. Its customers have 14.9 million credit cards and 33.8 million debit cards, according to RBI data, making it one of the largest transaction banks in the country.

The private sector lender was the third-largest remitter bank in October on the UPI network behind State Bank of India and Axis Bank with 179.5 million transactions and a technical failure rate of 0.81%, according to National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) data.
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