All Nets services restored after temporary outage islandwide

In a Facebook post, Nets informed its merchants and consumers that services were temporarily unavailable. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
A notice at Cold Storage in Bugis Junction informing customers that Nets payments are unavailable. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - For about two hours on Friday (Feb 2), all forms of cashless services provided by Nets was disrupted in what is believed to be its first outage in decades.

Soon after systems broke down at around 2pm, Nets put up a Facebook post informing customers of the problem.

The post read: "All Nets services are temporarily unavailable. Nets users will not be able to perform any Nets transactions (including point-of-sales transactions and top up services) for the time being."

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a Nets spokesman said the incident was unrelated to "any security issues".

"No personal data was compromised as a result of this incident," she said.

The Straits Times understands that a "connection module" which connects Nets and the banks had failed and needed to be reset.

At 3.44pm, another Facebook post by Nets said that all services were restored.

The disruption comes just as Nets is ramping up its services to be the unifying force in Singapore's march towards being a cashless society.

Mr James Lloyd, Ernst & Young's Asia-Pacific fintech leader, said that e-payment systems need to be more resilient and have sufficient redundancies - like banking systems.

"Payments are the most frequent financial services that consumers engage in. Systems need to be entirely resilient - with no margin for error," he said.

A project manager in her 40s, who gave her name as Ms Tay, said she was unable to pay for her beauty treatment at a salon in Toa Payoh.

"The Nets system wasn't able to get a connection after two tries, so I paid by Visa instead. It was not too much of a hassle," she said.

A sign at FairPrice Finest in Junction 8 informing customers of the service disruption. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Nets services were down at FairPrice Finest in Bugis' Junction 8 and at Bugis Junction's Cold Storage when ST visited at around 3.30pm.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a statement that it takes a serious view of all incidents affecting the availability of critical payment systems, such as the Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale services operated by Nets.

"MAS has instructed Nets to identify and address the root cause of the problem, as well as to submit a thorough investigation report to MAS. MAS will review the investigation findings and take supervisory action, if necessary," said an MAS spokesman.

According to an MAS notice dated June 2013 on technology risk management, which applies to Nets, the maximum unscheduled downtime for each critical system should not exceed a total of four hours within 12 months.

Owned by DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank (UOB), Nets runs the country's most ubiquitous and oldest system, dubbed Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale (EFTPOS).

This 30-year-old cashless payment scheme lets consumers use their ATM cards for direct deductions from their bank accounts at some 100,000 acceptance points islandwide including those at Cold Storage and FairPrice supermarkets.

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