Canada's Main Banks go Offline in Strange Hours-Long Outage

Canada’s Main Banks go Offline in Strange Hours-Long Outage

Customers were unable to access online and mobile banking, as well as e-transfers, for many hours when five major Canadian banks went offline. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), TD Bank Canada, Scotiabank, BMO (Bank of Montreal), and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) are among the banks affected by the outage.

Many people could not use e-Transfers, online, or mobile banking services when Canada’s five leading banks went offline yesterday. On Wednesday, reports of consumers experiencing problems accessing their online banking peaked between 5 and 6 p.m. Eastern time.

“We are currently experiencing technical issues with our online and mobile banking, as well as our phone systems,” confirmed an RBC representative. “Our experts are investigating and working to get this fixed as quickly as possible, but we have no ETA to provide at this time. We appreciate your patience.”

Customers continued to report troubles a few hours later, within half an hour after RBC declared that all systems were back up. Due to the disruption, RBC client Andrew Currie said he had “no access to my money at the grocery store” and was stuck in the checkout queue for half an hour.

Customers of BMO also said that the bank’s “Global Money Transfer service” was down “all day,” with transfers being automatically denied for no apparent reason. A BMO spokesperson said that such customers should contact customer support. CIBC refused to admit any problems with its online banking system.

Customers were also locked out of TD Bank’s mobile banking app, with customer support personnel stating vaguely that they “haven’t been advised of recent issues with our online service through EasyWeb.” Some ATMs were down, although it’s unclear whether this is related to the outage at this time. According to an RBC staffer, the customer facing ATM problems is using an older debit card.

The source of the outage is unknown, but it comes only days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act amid continuous ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland discussed the new requirements that payment service providers must follow under the newly invoked Emergencies Act during a press conference on Parliament Hill on Monday.

Furthermore, the Emergency Economic Powers Act allows banks to freeze the accounts of persons and firms suspected of being involved in the illegal blockades without obtaining a court order or incurring civil liability. However, as the Deputy Prime Minister points out, as banks must report to FINTRAC, it is unclear how the new law will cause a planned or unplanned outage.

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