The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked HDFC Bank to halt launch of its new digital programme and on-boarding new customers for its credit card business until further orders.
In a regulatory filing, HDFC Bank says, "...the RBI has issued an order dated 2 December 2020 to HDFC Bank with regard to certain incidents of outages in the internet banking, mobile banking, payment utilities of the Bank over the past two years, including the recent outages in the Bank’s internet banking and payment system on 21 November 2020 due to a power failure in the primary data centre."
"The RBI vide said order has advised the Bank to temporarily stop, 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 sourcing of new credit card customers," the lender says.
RBI has also asked HDFC Bank board to examine the lapses and fix responsibility. Only after satisfactory compliance with the major critical observations as identified by RBI, the sanctions would be lifted by the central bank.
In addition, the order states that the Bank’s board examines the lapses and fixes accountability.
In a message to customers, Sashi Jagdishan, managing director (MD) and chief executive (CEO) of HDFC Bank, has apologised for not living up to customers' expectations. He says, "We realize that as our valued customer, you expect us to maintain a very high standard of service quality and experience. And sometimes, we have not been able to live up to your expectations. For that, please accept our sincere apologies."
As per Mr Jagdishan, HDFC Bank had two outages, one in November 2018 followed by another in December last year. "We have taken help of external expertise, understood what needs to be done further and have substantially implemented the inputs to strengthen our IT infrastructure and systems. Unexpectedly another incident happened on 21 November 2020 and the primary reason for the same is the power outage in our primary data centre. We are working on war footing to strengthen this area also now," he says.
According to HDFC Bank, over the past two years, it has taken several measures to fortify its IT systems and will continue to work swiftly to close out the balance and would continue to engage with the regulator in this regard.
"The Bank has always endeavoured to provide seamless digital 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," HDFC Bank says.