Thu, Oct 23, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Compensation ordered for ATM breakdown

RECEIPTS NECESSARY The Ministry of Finance has told the Financial Information Service Co to cover penalties or losses incurred as a result of Monday's shutdown

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government said yesterday that it will hold the Financial Information Service Co (財金公司) fully responsible for a breakdown in the inter-banking automation system on Monday that forced several banks to shut down their automatic-teller machines (ATMs).

Vice Minister of Finance Susan Chang (張秀蓮) told a press conference yesterday that the company would pay compensation for losses or penalties that resulted from the breakdown.

"To safeguard consumers' rights, the company will make full compensation to ATM users whose losses are proven to have been caused by the breakdown," Chang said.

Those wanting to claim compensation must must present receipts that show their ATM transactions failed to be completed due to the breakdown, Chang said.

For example, if a consumer was trying to pay his or her credit card bill by ATM after the banks closed on Monday but couldn't, and received a late payment penalty as a result, the Financial Information Service would pay the penalty on the consumer's behalf, Chang said.

The company must also notify the clearing house to nullify the records of any checks that bounced because of the breakdown, Chang said.

While compensation payments will be made on a case-by-case basis, Chang said she hoped the company would learn from this experience and make an effort to ensure that such a breakdown will not occur again.

A systems failure in one of the company's communication control-lers forced seven banks to shut down their ATMs, including Chinatrust Commercial Bank (中國信託銀行), International Commercial Bank of China (國際商銀), First Commercial Bank (第一銀行), Hua Nan Com-mercial Bank (華南銀行), Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫) and United World Chinese Commercial Bank (世華銀行).

According to Financial Information Service spokesman Pan Wei-jong (潘維忠), around 200,000 wire-transfer transactions and 300,000 withdrawals were not completed due to the breakdown.

The company initially refused to accept any responsibility for paying compensation, angering many consumers.

After a barrage of media criticism, company's chairman Lee Ming-chi (李明紀) held an emergency press conference on Tuesday to issue an official apology.

He also agreed to study the possibility of paying compensation.

Financial Information Service came under fire during the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday morning.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun reportedly was displeased with the company's negligence and its record of accidental leaks of confidential information on bank clients to the private sector.

Yu instructed the Ministry of Finance to take necessary disciplinary actions against the company.

Chang said the ministry has asked the company to present a report on Monday's breakdown "as soon as possible."

"Once the report is ready and the causes [of the breakdown] are clarified, we may decide to penalize those responsible," Chang said.

However, she defended the company's monopoly status, saying that "having other private information-technology companies taking part in the inter-banking automation system might not end up benefiting bank clients."

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