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'File format change' caused wrong Prudential deductions

MAS reviewing findings and will take supervisory actions where appropriate

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is reviewing the findings of an investigation into the wrong premium deductions of 20,000 Prudential customers in Singapore in May.

Singapore

THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is reviewing the findings of an investigation into the wrong premium deductions of 20,000 Prudential customers in Singapore in May.

The investigation reports were submitted to the regulator by Prudential and its payment bank Standard Chartered Bank. The two financial institutions said on Friday that the "isolated incident" was due to the introduction of a "file format change" used for premium collection on the same day".

An MAS spokesman said it is reviewing the reports to assess the adequacy of the financial institutions' change management and incident handling processes.

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"We will engage both financial institutions on any gaps and will take supervisory actions, where appropriate." As a result of the file format change, the all-crucial decimal point was omitted in certain deductions, causing GIRO deductions that would typically be in hundreds of dollars ballooning to tens of thousands instead, according to checks with Prudential customers and social-media posts.

Some 22,000 Prudential customers were affected by what is believed to be the first-of-its kind error here.

While the regulator gave no indication of the timeline for penalties, or which institution holds greater responsibility, it said for now that it has noted the remedial actions taken by both financial institutions.

This included "the prompt rectification of affected policyholders' accounts" - refunds to all affected accounts were made within 24 hours.

Prudential Singapore further paid S$100 each to all customers whose monthly GIRO deductions fell on the day in question. The payments totalled at least S$2.2 million. Prudential Singapore also said it would reimburse interest lost and charges incurred.

The MAS had earlier emphasised that this "glitch" affecting customers of multiple banks was due to an operational lapse, not a cyberattack.

Both Prudential and StanChart said they have put in place additional measures to prevent this from happening in future, and have successfully completed subsequent rounds of deduction in June. StanChart remains Prudential Singapore's payment bank at this point.

Both parties also apologised for the incident. StanChart thanked respective banks for working with it to reverse all affected transactions within 24 hours.