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BPI assures customers: No one loses money over system error

Image from BPI's FB account

(Updated: 8 p.m., June 9)

None of BPI’s depositors will lose money upon the resolution of an internal system error affecting the bank.

This has been the assurance of the Bank of the Philippine Islands since Wednesday (June 7) morning, when news spread like wildfire that many of the lender’s depositors have found discrepancies in their bank accounts.

As the social media started to get flooded with disgruntled depositors throughout the day, BPI immediately posted an advisory that cited ‘an internal system error’ for the problem. It said that glitch caused some transactions that actually occurred from April 27 to May 2 to be double-posted as of June 6.

In its updated advisory by noon of the same day, BPI said it had already identified the cause of the error and had consequently suspended access to its electronic channels until further notice to speed up its correction process. It also promised to complete the resolution within a few hours.

Before the end of its banking day (4:30 p.m.), BPI had released an advisory that it was extending banking hours until 7:30 p.m. (only that day) in all its branches (BPI and BPI Family Savings Bank) nationwide to “provide further assistance” to its customers, who needed to do important transactions over-the-counter as online transactions could still not be facilitated.

Image from BPI’s FB account

The bank also reminded its depositors that its “resolution efforts do not require any client to submit personal data to any party, in particular via a link embedded in e-mails or third-party site.” It said the integrity of its clients’ transactions and account balances will be maintained.

In a media interview, BPI Senior Vice President Catherine Santamaria denied speculations that the bank’s system was hacked. The Bangko Sentral and Pilipinas (BSP) also dismissed such rumors.

By 10 p.m. Wednesday, the bank announced that it had completed rectification of the technical glitch that it earlier said affected “only a small portion” of its two banking brands’ combined client base of about eight million. BPI is yet to disclose information about the scale of the problem. “Please accept our gratitude for your patience, and our apologies for any inconvenience you may have experienced,” it said in a released statement.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday (June 8), BPI again posted an advisory indicating that it had to again deactivate its electronic channels indefinitely while in the “process of rectifying balances of accounts with wrongly posted transactions.” The bank said it needs to do this to enable necessary adjustments in its systems. Consequently, almost all branches experience extraordinary long queues of customers, who cannot access their accounts via automated teller machines (ATMs), mobile, or online portals. All branches will again implement extended banking hours until 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

In the latest update from the bank, it said the rectification had been completed by 9:00 p.m. Thursday (June 8) night. All its electronic channels have been operational as normal by Friday (June 9) morning. However, in anticipation of the long Independence Day weekend, the bank has announced that some branches of BPI and BPI Family Savings Bank will open to receive transactions on Saturday (June 10). Click this link for more information.

Clients with further concerns and queries are advised to call BPI’s 24-hour hotline 89-100 or send an email to CBGCustomerCareDepartment@bpi.com.ph.

Meanwhile, a competing bank is starting to draw controversy after it posted in Wednesday afternoon a sponsored post over the social media. By end of that day, Security Bank had already pulled out its sponsored post, which invites banking customers to ‘make the switch.’ The message even carried the hashtags ‘BetterBanking’ and ‘SwitchToBetterBanking.’ Some netizens thought the post was an allusion to BPI’s mishaps as hinted by the color scheme it used to refer to ‘another bank.’

BPI is the third biggest bank in the country in terms of capitalization and number of branches following BDO (No. 1) and Metrobank (No. 2) as of December 2016, according to data from BSP. It is the second biggest bank in terms of total deposits, trailing behind BDO.

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