Core System Downtimes Can Bring Your Bank to Its Knees

  • Posted by: Kenneth Ogada
  • Category: Blog

We’re all familiar with the “better safe than sorry” saying, and it rings true when it comes to core systems. Your institution’s core banking system is not immune to the unpredictable disruptions of unexpected downtimes that can bring it to its knees. The pursuit of uninterrupted service is a goal for financial institutions worldwide, yet the inevitability of system hiccups challenges the very essence of reliability and underscores the necessity of robust contingency planning. Let’s delve into the complex world of core system vulnerabilities, shedding light on the unpredictable encounters with downtime that can impact even the most meticulously designed operations.

What’s a Core Banking System?

A core banking system is like the central “brain” of your institution. It’s the powerful computer system that manages all the essential functions of your institution, such as keeping track of your customers’ account balance, processing their deposits and withdrawals, and making sure their money is safe and secure. It’s the heart of your operations, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and that your customers’ financial transactions are handled accurately and efficiently.

Generally, your core system manages critical functions such as data storage, transaction processing, credit and risk assessment, financial reporting, document and workflow management, etc. It works diligently to maintain the reliability and efficiency of every financial facet.

Overview of Core System Downtimes

Downtimes in your core system can occur when crucial operations come to a screeching halt. It’s like your bank’s brain suddenly calling in sick or chewing a blackout. The impact can be disastrous, affecting not just your institution’s efficiency but also your reputation and bottom line.

The Challenge of Downtimes

Your core system isn’t immune to disruptions. Technical glitches, maintenance, or external factors such as power outages or cyberattacks can all lead to core banking outages.

A Case in Point

Tech troubles at a tier 1 bank pushed the bank’s customers to the brink. In an article by a leading publishing firm in Kenya, customers of the bank were considering ditching the institution for another following a series of technical issues.

It was observed, the bank’s mobile app experienced service disruptions for three consecutive days, was unavailable throughout the entire weekend, and, frustratingly, malfunctioned again shortly after the bank announced it had resolved the problem.

A subsequent incident, which lasted even longer than the anticipated time, apparently pushed some customers to their limit. Among these customers, including those with over decades of loyalty to the bank, expressed their frustration on the bank’s social media platforms, indicating that they were now seriously contemplating a move to a different bank.

The situation at the tier 1 bank serves as a real-world example of the consequences of core system downtime. When your core system encounters technical troubles, it can have a profound impact on your customers and their loyalty. In this case, the bank’s mobile app disruptions for three consecutive days and an entire weekend left customers extremely frustrated.

This kind of extended downtime not only inconveniences customers but also erodes their trust in the bank’s ability to provide reliable services.

Here’s What it Means When Your Primary System Goes Offline

All transactions come to a standstill, and this can lead to a loss of revenue and trust. During such periods, the consequences can even be severe for your institution. Without the ability for your customers to access their bank accounts and process transactions, your branches are unable to offer essential services.

The result? Frustrated customers and potential revenue loss.

The Impacts of Downtimes on Your Institution

Your core banking system is the invisible foundation that holds everything in your institution together. But what happens when this vital infrastructure faces downtime? The consequences ripple through your institution, impacting not only your institution but also your customers and the broader financial landscape.

Here’s how:

1. Financial Consequences

Core banking downtimes can hit your business where it hurts the most—your wallets. The financial consequences can be devastating, with losses mounting every second your system remains down. Every failed transaction, missed opportunity, and delayed operation translates into potential revenue loss. It can also lead to regulatory penalties.

2. Reputational Damage and Customer Impact

Downtimes not only cause financial woes but can also tarnish your institution’s reputation faster than you can say “technical glitch.” Tour customers lose trust, and trust is like an elusive unicorn in the business world. It takes years to build and just one downtime incident is enough to shatter it. With social media amplifying every customer complaint and negative experience, a single downtime can trigger a PR nightmare, resulting in long-term damage to your brand’s image.

3. Customer Disruption

Customer-facing services, such as internet banking and mobile banking, ATM transactions, and account inquiries, may become unavailable. This can lead to frustration and inconvenience for your customers, potentially eroding their trust in you.

4. Operational Inefficiency

Core system downtime can disrupt internal operations, leading to delays in processing loans, deposits, and other essential functions. This can affect your institution’s efficiency and productivity of your team.

5. Data Integrity Risks

Downtime can increase the risk of data corruption or loss, which can have serious consequences for your operations and compliance with data protection regulations.

6. Customer Support Costs

You may need to allocate resources to handle customer inquiries, complaints, and support during downtime, which can increase operational costs.

7. Regulatory Compliance Issues

Downtime can lead to non-compliance with regulatory requirements related to transaction processing, data security, and reporting, potentially resulting in fines and legal issues.

8. Customer Churn (percentage of customers that stopped using your products or services during a certain time frame.)

Prolonged or recurring downtime can drive your customers to switch to your competitors whom they perceive as more reliable institutions. This results in customer churn and loss of business.

9. Business Continuity Planning Costs

To mitigate the impacts of downtime, you must invest in business continuity and disaster recovery plans, which can be costly to implement and maintain.

10. Employee Stress

Downtime can create stress for your team who must deal with frustrated customers and work overtime to catch up on delayed tasks.

11. Competitive Disadvantage

A reputation for unreliable services can put your institution at a disadvantage compared to competitors that offer more stable and efficient services.

Common Causes of Downtimes in Your Sophisticated Core System

  • Hardware and Infrastructure Failures

A faulty server, a network glitch, or even a clumsy employee accidentally tripping over a cable can bring your whole system down.

  • Software Bugs and Incompatibilities

A single line of code gone wrong can trigger a cascade of issues, leading to unexpected crashes, data corruption, and the occasional spontaneous combustion.

  • Cybersecurity Threats and Attacks

A successful cyber-attack can bring your core system to its knees, stealing sensitive data, causing chaos, and leaving you to pick up the pieces.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Mitigating Downtimes with a System that Processes Transactions Offline

You can process transactions and data in situations where there is limited or no real-time connectivity to your central or core system. This is possible through a system that’s designed to operate independently or semi-independently from your core system, offering a backup or alternative means of processing transactions.

Here are the key points explaining how it helps:

i. Local Data Storage

It typically has its own database or data storage component to store transaction data locally.

ii. Transaction Processing

It can perform basic transaction processing functions, such as account inquiries, deposits, withdrawals, and transfers, even when your primary core system is unavailable.

iii. Synchronization

It has the capability to synchronize with your primary core system when connectivity is restored, ensuring that all offline transactions are reflected in your central system.

iv. Redundancy

It serves as a redundancy mechanism to maintain essential banking operations during core system downtimes.

v. Operational Independence

It can function independently or with limited connectivity, making it suitable for use in remote or disaster-prone locations where network connectivity may be unreliable.

vi. Disaster Recovery

It is often a key component of an institution’s disaster recovery and business continuity plan, ensuring that you can continue providing services in the event of system failures or other emergencies.

vii. Audit Trail

It generates transaction records and maintains an audit trail of offline transactions for compliance and reconciliation purposes.

viii. Customer Services

It enables your customers to perform basic banking operations even when your primary online services are unavailable, ensuring a seamless customer experience.

ix. Reduced Downtime Impact

By offering a means to process transactions offline, the impact of core banking system downtime on customers, financial operations, and your institution’s reputation can be significantly reduced.

Overall, this is one system that can provide you with a safety net to continue essential banking operations during core system downtimes, ensuring business continuity and minimizing the impact of system failures on customers and operations.

There’s no time like today to implement this solution

Continue serving your clients during such unfortunate times of downtime. Ensure your branches continue to serve your customers effectively with our Branch Resilience Solution.