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Ethniki Trapeza, Eunikh Trapeza, NBG
Φωτο: Konstantinos Tsakalidis / SOOC

Millions of card transactions missed due to National Bank system glitch

According to Business Daily sources, the problem concerns about 200,000 credit and debit cards with which more than 6 million transactions made from the summer of 2019 to the summer of 2020, the total value of which is close to 200 million euros.

Problems have been caused in the banking system by the delayed recording of millions of transactions, through credit and debit cards, which took place over a period of 12 months.

According to Business Daily sources, the problem concerns about 200,000 credit and debit cards with which more than 6 million transactions made from the summer of 2019 to the summer of 2020, the total value of which is close to 200 million euros.

These are various transactions that were recorded with a considerable delay due to a problem in the settlement process resulting from a malfunction of National Bank’s (NBG) information systems.

Although the technical problem concerns exclusively the systems of National Bank, it affected all lenders, as transactions made with Eurobank, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank cards from points of sale that use a NBG POS were cleared with a delay of many months. Thus, for many months a large volume of transactions worth tens of millions of euros could not be seen. Although they had been completed, they were not accounted for and cardholders had not incurred the corresponding charges, until now.

How it was spotted

The existence of millions of transactions that had been missed was discovered after a large number of complaints from bank customers who found costs in their monthly accounts from "hidden" transactions, dating back several months.

In fact, interest-free installment purchases made six months ago, which had not been cleared, are now subject to charges that did not appear when they were made.
The delays have given rise to many complaints from bank customers arguing that they should not be hit with cumulative costs on transactions completed 6 to 12 months ago. Clearing these delayed transactions now means that many cards have been pushed to their limit, or even beyond it. Even worse, since it also concerns debit card transactions, there are cases where the expense was recorded when the account had no cash in it.

The stance adopted by NBG and its decision to quietly resolve the issue has drawn complaints from other lenders, who believe that NBG has not taken responsibility for the issue.

It needs to be emphasized that the problem concerns only the deferred recording of transactions. There are no double charges or other unjustified transaction fees and now, as NBG sources say,  the problem has been solved.

According to sources, the technical problem in the NBG system is located in the non-communication of the transaction system with the settlement procedure due to a gradual upgrade of its electronic systems. It is noted that the digital transformation of the National Bank is a top strategic priority of the management of CEO Pavlos Mylonas and the bank has made great strides in this direction, with positive results.

Such problems are not uncommon, especially when large-scale upgrades are underway, but the fact that for 12 months these transactions were not recorded, raises concerns regarding about the effectiveness of NBG’s control mechanisms.

In any case, the absence of an official announcement on behalf of NBG and the other banks also raises concerns about transparency and the way problems that disruptions are handled.

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