Standard Bank computers on the blink

By Staff Writer

Edward West

Senior Business Writer

STANDARD Bank Group, one of the country’s big four banks that has about 8-million retail and business clients, had to figuratively close its doors for about three hours yesterday afternoon when software problems prevented branch, internet and credit card payments.

Spokesman Ross Lindstrom said the bank “apologises sincerely” to all its customers for the problem and the inconvenience of not being able to transact. He assured clients that the bank’s system had not been hacked into, and that all client information was safe.

The financial effect on Standard of not being able to trade for about three hours had not been quantified, he said.

Typically, the big banks in SA can source up to half of their revenue from fees generated from client transactions.

Standard Bank’s share price fell 1,68% to R81,70 on the JSE yesterday, almost in line with the 1,37% decline of the overall banking index. The bank’s share price is, however, still well below its 12-month high of R119,50.

Investec Asset Management banks analyst John Biccard said software problems of the scale reported by Standard Bank was uncommon in the local banking industry.

However, the problem with the software would not affect his outlook on the bank’s share price, and it was similarly unlikely to have affected the share price movement yesterday. Standard’s share price decline yesterday had nothing to do with its temporary software problem.

Lindstrom said though he was “no techie”, the software problem was detected early yesterday afternoon in the banks’ mainframe and that no transactions that involved the banks’ branch network across the country, credit cards or internet services were able to take place.

He said the problem had not been caused by the introduction of new software. All the banks’ services had been restored before 5pm.

He said the bank had never experienced a problem on such a scale before, though about a month ago the bank had had some software problems with certain types of ATMs.

Standard’s headline earnings for the year to December 31 grew to R13bn, up 22% on the previous year. Its medium-term projections include a normalised return on equity pegged at 22,5%. It reduced its forecast for headline earnings per share growth from 10 percentage points above SA’s inflation rate to five percentage points above.

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