The Financial Express

Cost of inter-bank e-transaction glitch

| Updated: April 24, 2021 21:31:22

Cost of inter-bank e-transaction glitch

Just a day before the start of the lockdown, the country's inter-bank electronic transaction virtually stopped due to technical problem. There was no inter-bank cheque settlement for three days, and the electronic fund transfer (EFT) resumed after six days. As a result, many bank customers suffered as they were not able to collect, withdraw and transfer their payments through banks. During the period of lockdown, it became an additional affliction for banks and clients. Fortunately, there were the weekend holiday of two days and a government holiday for Pahela Boishakh. The real-time gross settlement (RTGS) was also fully functional. That's why the impact of the disruption appeared not too big.

The technical glitch originated from the fault in the optical fibre cable of Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL). The wires connecting two servers, located at the central bank head office in Motijhil and Bangladesh Bank Training Academy in Mirpur became dysfunctional. Thus, both the electronic cheque clearing and electronic fund transfer came to a stop. 

It is, however, not clear why such a technical glitch took place. As quoted in different news media, the central bank officials argued that these two servers were closed down following the government's initial decision that banks would not open during the lockdown. The decision reversed on Tuesday night. In the meantime, both the electronic cheque clearing and electronic fund transfer systems stopped. When the authorities restarted the systems, a technical glitch disrupted the resumption of service. Another version is that a trouble in the BTCL line caused the havoc. Now, these are two different types of problems. For fibre optic connection disruption, it is the responsibility of BTCL to ensure smooth connectivity. For server closing and smooth restart, it is the duty of the Bangladesh Bank.

Whatever may be the reason behind the disruption, it is costly. The sufferings of bankers and their clients cannot be measured in monetary terms entirely. It does not mean that the trouble is 'an unconnected incident' as in many other cases. In Bangladesh, terming any glitch or fault of service as 'an unconnected incident' becomes a practice. Different government agencies shrug off their failures by labelling those as unconnected incidents. In this process, people who suffer or become the victims are helpless. In the process, the wrongdoers receive protection from any punitive measure.

In case of the current disruption of interbank electronic transaction, the authorities also do not form any probe committee to find the actual reason or reasons behind the trouble. By not doing so, they also indicate that the technical glitch is not a matter of grave concern to them. It is a disturbing phenomenon. A probe committee should be formed to identify the factors behind the technical glitch and suggest possible remedial measures for avoiding those in the future.  There is no way  the matter should be taken so lightly as the financial sector is the backbone of the economy. 


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