Finance

Businesses unable to pay staff as Commonwealth Bank suffers widespread outage

Matthew Elmas /

Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is in damage control this morning after a widespread outage of its business and consumer banking services left angry customers saying they hadn’t been paid.

Reports began surfacing on Thursday that CBA, Australia’s largest bank, was experiencing a service outage, and by midday, the bank had confirmed it was “experiencing an issue” and had begun an investigation.

Business and customer banking and payments services have been affected by the outage, which CBA claimed was the result of “internal system issues” related to an upgrade it implemented on Thursday.

The bank’s social media channels have been flooded by an array of angry users, many saying they haven’t been paid on time because either they are CBA customers or their employer is. 

Customers also said they had issues making debit card payments, with some social media users reporting waiting at retail stores, unable to purchase goods.

Fifteen minutes after acknowledging the outage publicly on Thursday, CBA revealed online and mobile banking services, including PayID and BPAY, were affected. “Some branches” were also temporarily closed.

Point-of-sale merchant terminals and ATM services have been unaffected by the outage, CBA said.

Almost two hours after its initial update, CBA revealed the scope of the problem had broadened, saying CommBiz login and payments services were not working, as well as cardless cash and some in-branch services.

The bank’s call centres, already dealing with a flood of confused customers, were also embroiled in the technical issues, further hampering its ability to respond to mounting criticism as wait times grew.

“We are unfortunately limited in what we can provide,” CBA said of its customer service capabilities in a statement on its website.

In another statement posted almost three hours after its initial update, CBA cited an issue with its network and sought to reassure customers that their accounts are safe.

A little over an hour later CBA clarified the processing of “some CommBiz payments” were affected and by 7.20pm the bank was warning customers to be vigilant against any opportunistic scammers.

Staff worked overnight in an effort to fix the problem, with the bank issuing an update at 1am claiming its services were “starting to recover”, warning there may be a delay in payments appearing in customer accounts.

In a statement issued later this morning (6am) CBA sought to reassure customers it was working through a backlog of payments and provide more detail about the reason for the outage.

“The internal system issues related to an upgrade implemented on Thursday,” the bank claimed.

While CBA said its systems were returning to normal on Friday morning, customers have continued to flood its social media channels with complaints that they still haven’t been paid.

Customers of Commonwealth subsidiary Bankwest also reported issues with internet banking and customer support services on Friday morning.

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany. You can contact him at [email protected].