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Australian online banking: hitting technical glitches

14th September 2007
By Petter Ingemarsson

Three of the five major Australian banks have experienced problems with their online banking platforms lately, with the most recent glitch being with ANZ's website, which crashed following a technical error, leaving a million customers without online banking. This highlights that many Australian corporations need to improve their technical platforms to maintain competitiveness in the market.

Several Australian banks have had their online banking platforms crash of late. Most recently, ANZ's website was inaccessible to both business clients and personal customers for almost 11 hours. The breakdown was caused by a software bug, the bank said.

This closely followed Westpac Banking Corporation's severe problems with its internet banking platform. For two days, customers were unable to access their accounts, the online brokerage platform, or wealth management services online. Furthermore, customers were frustrated by what they perceived to be a sluggish resolution of the issue. When the Westpac website was up and running again, the bank offered no explanation for the breakdown, but instead lauded its "visually different" new website.

The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has also had its share of internet troubles in recent months. In August 2007, the online platform for business clients performed erratically for a week, forcing the bank's customers to use alternative methods to conduct business with CBA. According to the bank, this crash was caused by an upgrade that went awry.

Many Australian banks are in the process of modernizing their IT platforms, and this process does not come without teething problems, which recent developments clearly highlight. However, if Australian banks want to remain competitive in a global marketplace, staying at the forefront of technological advances is crucial. The consequences of bad PR relating to technological glitches must also be considered, especially as consumers are becoming increasingly aware of online security threats and vulnerabilities.

This is a particular area of concern not only for banks but for Australian business in general as the country is lagging behind internationally in the IT arena, with unimpressive broadband speeds, slow uptake rates, and relatively underdeveloped business applications. Thus, banks' recent troubles with IT platforms highlight the necessary hurdles that Australian corporations must overcome.

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