Customers of Acleda Bank, the Kingdom’s largest financial institution, struggled to access their accounts after the bank’s nearly 300 ATM machines nationwide were taken out of service over the weekend for a system-wide software upgrade.
Despite claims by the bank that the ATMs would only be closed from 10pm on Friday until Saturday morning, customers reported that the closures began on Friday afternoon and continued at some branches beyond midday yesterday.
Speaking at the bank’s branch on Norodom Boulevard in Phnom Penh last night, Pang Sopheak, an Acleda representative who had been deployed to ease customer complaints, said while the branch’s ATM was working, there were still bugs to be sorted out.
“The new system is not working well yet and some customers have had difficulty in taking out money still,” he said. “It was supposed to be fixed by 10 am on Saturday.”
In Channy, president and CEO of Acleda Bank, said the bank informed all of its clients of the temporary ATM closure beforehand, though declined to say how they were notified.
“We informed our customers that they would be inconvenienced while we upgraded our system,” he said, insisting that all 298 of the bank’s ATMs were functioning after the scheduled Saturday morning reboot.
He said the purpose of the temporary network shutdown was to upgrade the ATM software after the bank installed EMV chip technology, an international standard for payment terminals.
EMV, short for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, provides better consumer protection by diminishing the chance of fraudulent activity such as ATM skimming.
“After we upgrade, we need time to backup all the information,” he said.
For Acleda’s 1.6 million depositors, many of whom had just received their monthly salary deposits and were looking ahead to the weekend, the timing was inconvenient.
Khun Sokhan, an Acleda customer, claimed he did not receive any prior announcement that the ATM network was being upgraded and was disappointed to arrive at a terminal on Friday evening only to find it closed. He said staff near the ATM told him to come back the following day at 5pm.
“I needed money for the weekend and I didn’t have any money at home so I had no cash to spend,” he said.
Acleda Bank had issued 850,000 debit and credit cards as of the end of 2015, according to Central Bank data.