Mark Branson, head of the German financial regulator Bafin, has called on Postbank to immediately get its problems with online banking and customer service under control. “Postbank now has to solve this quickly,” he said on Tuesday in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “I would even say it’s a unique situation when we look at how many complaints there are about a single institution. So it’s no longer just an IT migration problem, but there are other profound disruptions in customer service,” he said out of.
The situation for customers is “unacceptable and extraordinary,” emphasized Branson: “It’s about important services that are not available, coupled with problems in reaching customer service. For some customers, this leads to extremely difficult situations.”
IT migration “Unity” led to customer disputes
At the beginning of the month, BaFin had already reprimanded Postbank due to “significant impairments in the processing of customer business”. The financial regulator said it is examining whether there are deficiencies that are “relevant from a supervisory perspective”. The fact that head of the authority Branson is now once again expressing clear criticism of the case is considered unusual for the authority, which is otherwise rather reserved with such statements.
The Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv) had previously contacted Bafin after a number of complaints from Postbank customers had arisen there. The background is an IT migration project called “Unity” that took place over several months until July of this year. The aim was to consolidate the data of Postbank’s twelve million customers with that of Deutsche Bank’s seven million customers in Germany on one IT platform. This caused problems for some customers. Central payment services could no longer have been maintained for all customers.
Is a special representative coming?
BaFin also has numerous complaints from the bank’s customers, the financial regulator told heise online at the beginning of September. They relate to difficulties in the availability of online and mobile banking, long waiting times for telephone customer service and long processing times for seizure and inheritance matters and for the repayment of savings deposits. The vzbv also described that sometimes direct debits were not carried out and customers could not access their accounts.
Branson left the question of whether the bank would have to expect sanctions because of the problems open: “It’s an interim situation. I don’t want to pre-empt possible measures. If reported, they will come.” It would be possible, for example, for Bafin to order a special audit or appoint a special representative to monitor the progress at Postbank. Neobank N26, for example, also has such a special representative in-house.
When asked by heise online, Postbank explained: “We are still recording a significantly increased volume of inquiries and orders from our customers at Postbank. As a result, some of our service processes continue to experience significantly longer processing times.” We apologize to all customers for this. Postbank is currently working on shortening the processing time in the affected areas. Among other things, the number of service employees has been significantly increased. We are in regular dialogue with Bafin about the measures.
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