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Commentary: When it comes to bank outages, convenience favours the prepared


If history is anything to go by, the response to the latest disruption will take a three-track path: Customers will complain about the inconvenience and decry the feasibility of Singapore going cashless; the banks may be made to review their operational processes and system resiliency; and the authorities may slap the infringing parties with additional requirements and demand they do better.

All of that is absolutely fair and understandable.

Undoubtedly, the banks – all of them, not just the two involved – will learn from this. Hopefully, they will build in better public relations and customer recovery, double down on redundancy systems and improve their scenario planning.

It is impossible to say when another outage will happen again. After all, no technology system is infallible.


From a larger societal roadmap to being cashless, this will be chalked up as a huge learning experience. But I wonder if the missing link to making a cashless system work better is if society – you and I – see ourselves as part of the whole digitalisation process, instead of mere consumers. 

Singapore has come a long way in its cashless journey. While the popularity of digital banking and cashless transactions only really took off in the last few years, the national campaign to minimise cash transactions started way back in 1985.

“The widespread use of electronic fund transfer systems and the acceptance of cashless transactions would usher in a new era of comfort and convenience in banking and cash management services,” said then Acting Minister for Labour Lee Yock Suan in a speech to launch the campaign on Mar 14, 1985.  “We can look forward to the day when we could do our shopping, pay our bills, check our bank accounts and transfer funds from one account to another all in the comfort of our homes.”

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