Senate to look into BPI glitch episode

Posted on June 14, 2017

THE Senate President on Tuesday, June 13, introduced a resolution directing the appropriate committees in his chamber to look into the almost-three-day technical glitch last week affecting the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), prompting “the ire of BPI’s clients... (who were) prevented....from remotely checking their respective accounts.”

Senate Resolution No. 403, introduced by Senate President Aquilino dL. Pimentel III, directs the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies “and other appropriate Senate committee(s) to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the alleged internal data processing error of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, which caused unauthorized credit and debit transactions from the bank accounts of its clients.”

The resolution noted the two advisories issued by the bank in the course of that episode and its assurance that no hacking was involved and “no BPI client will lose money.”

But the resolution also added, “BPI’s image as one of the leaders in the banking industry was tainted in the evening of June 6, 2017(,) when complaints of its irate clients surfaced in various social media, claiming unauthorized withdrawals from their bank accounts, with some even reporting negative balances in their bank accounts.”

The resolution also said: “this is not the first time that BPI clients complained of unauthorized withdrawals. In 2015, incidents of automated teller machine (ATM) card skimming involving BPI’s ATMs located in various parts in Metro Manila and as far as Bacolod City were reported. Due to the ATM card skimming, unauthorized withdrawals were made.”

It added further: “(A) number of BPI account holders find the public statements of the bank concerning this particular issue of incorrect balances to be unsatisfactory, lacking in details, and shrouded in mysterious technical terms like ‘internal data processing error’ and are looking forward to be enlightened about this incident from a public hearing on the matter.”

“(A) lthough this inquiry has been prompted by the experience of only one bank, there is a need to find out if other banks and our entire banking system are vulnerable to the same phenomenon as what struck BPI this early June 2017,” the resolution also said.

Sought for comment, Mr. Pimentel said via text that Senator Francis G. Escudero, chairman of the banks committee, “(i) s currently studying (i) f he can hear it this break. let’s wait for his conclusion.”

Mr. Escudero when sought for comment said in part: “Will still see if and how we can do it during the recess without violating our own Rules.” -- with Jil Danielle M. Caro