TWO giant banks in the Philippines, the Bank of the Philippine Islands and Banco de Oro, on Wednesday faced a Senate probe panel chaired by Sen. Francis ‘’Chiz’’ Escudero to clarify the reports of unauthorized transactions and withdrawals blamed on a BPI computer glitch and BDO ATM skimming.
Escudero, who chairs the Senate Banks Committee, asked high-ranking officials of both banks about the measures taken to protect the depositors and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas about the results of its investigation into the banking issues.
Ramon Jocson, BPI’s Executive Vice President in charge of Information Technology, assured the Senate that there was absolutely “no hacking” that transpired and admitted that the glitch was caused by human error in judgment of one of their programmers.
Jocson said remedial action was taken immediately to avoid repetition of the malaise as they admitted the need for deeper training and expertise of their people as well as more rigorous implementation of internal controls.
He admitted that their top priority right now is to re-establish depositors’ trust that they are protected under the various services they are offering clients which include fund transfer, remittances, online transaction and other transactions through electronic channels.
It was reported earlier that the said BPI glitch was caused by an overeager system staffer who was cleared to work in the BPI IT system’s heart of operations who reportedly introduced some changes to improve the system without prior clearance that caused of this BPI glitch the chaos among its depositors.
Jocson said correcting the error took time because of the volumes of files affected but assured the Senate panel that BPI took steps immediately to control the situation to avoid repetition of the glitch.
Jocson said account balances of every customer are protected as he explained the procedure of BPI of printing every customer’s transaction in each branch daily to protect both the banks and its customers and for monitoring purposes as well.
“Glitch hit a closed system but did not affect the external system and, certainly, our depositors and their money are protected. There was absolutely no hacking.” Jocson told the hearing.
Jocson also said all claims have been identified and addressed properly including payrolls of some companies.
BPI, he said also reversed fees for customers affected by the glitch which caused delayed payments and extended their banking hours during those times.
“Every single customer is important to us. We have been acting on all claims brought to our knowledge. There was no loss so far to any of our BPI clients.” Jocson said.
The BDO officials who were present during the hearing headed by Edwin Romualdo G. Reyes , EVP Transacting Banking Group Head said BDO case is different from that of the BPI.
Based on reports, the BDO case is skimming for which Reyes assured that they have full control of the situation and that there is no cause for worry.
Only seven BDO ATMs out of 3000 BDO ATMs nationwide has been affected from 3 locations which were immediately addressed by disabling the cards that has been reportedly compromised.
Skimming according to Reyes is done through illegal devices that read magnetic strip of ATM cards as transactions are being done.