The Bank of Uganda’s Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) on Wednesday crashed forcing Governor Emmanuel Mutebile to suspend processing for large payments for a day.
The RTGS also known as the Uganda National Inter-bank Settlement System (UNIS) facilitates safe, secure and real-time transmission of high value funds between accounts in different financial institutions. It was implemented in February 2005, and was upgraded from a client /server based model to a web-based model in August 2009.
According to Daily Monitor, there were attempts to fix what BoU managers called ‘normal system hiccups’ as senior managers fidgeted with large cash transactions that needed urgent, safe, secure and real time clearance. They tried to revert to manual processing for large payments but did not succeed.
Following the incident, Prof Mutebile instituted an investigation into the matter to ascertain the exact cause of the breakdown.
The local daily also stated that the disruption mainly affected both incoming and outgoing RTGS flows and clearing files.
This, according to the Senior Manager at BoU and another source at a major financial institution in the country, “is an industry-wide issue and is still persisting and unfortunately, until BoU sorts out the system, payments/ receipts cannot be effected.”
Fred Muhumuza, an economist, yesterday explained that the disruption in RTGS system depends on many things, “you would not know why it was disrupted, possibly, BoU was upgrading the system and this case, they might have communicated to those people or it could be coming from outside a system where there are service providers with internet links to the system.”
“That can be a big disruption to the economy and system failure at the Central Bank could have disrupted many business transactions , particularly people who had payments to make or receive because the RTGS is a big money mover,” the economist said.
Adding, “A day of disruption can mean a lot of business, including government itself..I hope that was not sabotage of any investments. But it could have been a hiccup or anything but I hope nobody hacked into the BoU system.”
However, BoU Director for Communications, Charity Mugumya last evening said the issue has since been resolved.
“It is true that RTGS had some temporal challenges but they have now been resolved and the system is operating normally.”