The Banking Supervision Department demands that Bank Hapoalim compensate customers who were affected by a defect found in the bank's automatic cash withdrawal machines, and imposed a monetary sanction on the bank

In December 2018, a story was published in the media regarding a nation-wide breakdown in Bank Hapoalim's automatic machines.  The story claimed that customers who tried to withdraw cash were charged the amount of the attempted withdrawal and a withdrawal fee, even though the withdrawal was not made and the customers did not actually receive the money due to a breakdown in the machine.  As a result of this information, the Banking Supervision Department opened an investigation regarding how the bank handles such breakdowns.  Based on the findings of the investigation, the Banking Supervision Department demanded that the bank find the customers who were affected by the breakdown and compensate them, and that the bank take measures to ensure that the breakdown does not recur.  In addition, the Banking Supervision Department imposed a monetary sanction of NIS 1,575,000 on the bank.  In recent months, the bank has invested many resources to deal with the problem, prevent its recurrence, and find the affected customers in order to refund their money.

 

The Banking Supervision Department's investigation showed that most of the withdrawal transactions were in order, and that when a withdrawal failed, the bank's systems automatically credited the customers in most cases.  However, in cases where there was a breakdown, the bank did not notify the customers, did not initiate action to find the customers who did not receive an automatic credit, and did not make sure to refund the full amount and the fees that were collected for the service that was not actually provided. In the instances of failure that were identified, it was found that the bank's actions were not consistent with Proper Conduct of Banking Business Directive 433 (Erroneous Entry in a Customer's Account), or with Section 9(j) of the Banking Law (Service to the Customer), 5741–1981, which deals with the collection of fees.

 

In view of the findings of the investigation, the Banking Supervision Department instructed Bank Hapoalim to find all the customers who did not receive their money at the time of the withdrawal, over the past seven years.  Bank Hapoalim is working at this time to refund the full amounts and fees that were collected from its customers and from customers of other banks who were affected, and it has reported to the Banking Supervision Department that a large number of the customers have already been credited, and that it is continuing to act in order to credit the remaining customers.

  

The bank has taken actions with the aim of minimizing the breakdowns in cash withdrawal machines and the potential effects for customers as much as possible, and the Banking Supervision Department is of the impression that the breakdown has been repaired.  In addition, the bank took actions to provide a service response to the customers, including extending the hours of the dedicated telephone call center for technical support.  When the process of finding the customers and refunding the money is completed, the bank will be required to publish data regarding the scope of the breakdown and the amounts that were refunded.

 

In addition to the requirement to refund the customers' money, and due to the stated breaches, the Banking Supervision Department imposed a monetary sanction on Bank Hapoalim in respect of the breach of Proper Conduct of Banking Business Directive 433, and in respect of the breach of Section 9(j) of the Banking Law (Service to the Customer) totaling NIS 1,575,000.  The amount was determined after a 10 percent deduction from the maximum amount that can be charged against these breaches in accordance with the reduction rules set forth in the law.  The decision to reduce the amount of the monetary sanction was based on the Banking Supervision Department's impression regarding the numerous and effective actions taken by the bank to correct the defects and prevent their recurrence.

 

At the same time, the Banking Supervision Department opened an investigation into the entire banking system regarding how the other banks handle breakdowns of their automatic machines.

 

Supervisor of Banks Dr. Hedva Ber said, "As in any business environment, the banking system also contains operational risks, and breakdowns cannot be completely prevented.  However, the supervisory expectation is that the banking system, its employees and its control mechanisms will operate constantly to find these breakdowns in real time, and that should a breakdown occur, the bank will initiate action to credit the customers and derive lessons for improving the service."

 

Customers who unsuccessfully tried to withdraw cash from Bank Hapoalim's automatic machines and were not credited are invited to contact the bank's dedicated call center at 03-567-3697 to investigate their claim.​