PromptPay ‘Y2 18’ glitch delays cash transfers

PromptPay, heavily promoted by the government and the Thai Bankers Association despite criticism over its security protocols, crashed on Sunday because it couldn’t handle a simple date rollover to 2018. (File photo)

Users of the national e-payments system, PromptPay, were left frustrated Sunday when computer glitches related to the formatting of the calendar changing to 2018 held their cash hostage for about eight hours.

It was not the best time of the year for the money transfer service to go down. The service disruption was reported as early as 7 am, and it affected transactions between banks only, according to Somkid Jiranuntarat chairman of Information Technology Club of the Thai Bankers Association (TBA).

PromptPay users complained the money transfer transactions were deemed completed, but the recipients did not get the money. Mr Somkid said the disruption was caused by computer glitches related to the formatting of the calendar and the National Interbank Transaction Management and Exchange (National ITMX), a local payment network service provider, was fixing the problem. “The recipients will receive the money when the bugs are fixed. If customers need to use cash, please contact the banks [the sender banks] directly and they will help solve the problem on a case by case basis,” he said.

Chantawan Sujaritkul, spokeswoman of Bank of Thailand, said banks guaranteed the safety of the money. The system returned around 3pm.

Dec 31 was the last day of the month when many are required to make payments or face fines, not to mention pay for new year celebrations. The online community and Facebook pages run by commercial banks were flooded with complaints. Customers were furious as they needed cash and they could not reach banks for clarifications. Some of those who did try the banks spent several hours finding someone to explain what happened.

One user complained: “I need money badly. I was able to reach a bank call centre after 90 minutes and she told me the bank will solve the problem within eight days — what the hell is the use of that,” he said.

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