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What Caused Capitec’s Massive 40 Hour Outage?

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
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Customers of Capitec Bank South Africa were unable to use any of the bank’s digital services, including its mobile app, internet banking services and USSD services from the morning hours of Thursday last week until around Saturday morning when the bank issued a statement that its services were restored.

Capitec Bank is one of the largest and most popular financial services providers in the country, and its online banking app has among the most users of any similar app in South Africa with over 7.5-million active users.

All of Capitec’s digital channels are currently online again, with the bank saying that payments made to and from its clients which were delayed due to the outages have now been processed. Capitec will also be refunding all banking fees incurred due to the downtime, it says.

The outages were met by significant backlash from customers, especially on social media. Capitec issued an apology after its digital services came back online, lamenting that it wasn’t “the level of service we aim to deliver” and promising to do better in the future.

“We know we’ve let our clients down and we sincerely apologise,” said Capitec spokesperson Francois Viviers in a statement about the cause of the outage.

What Caused the System-Wide Outage?

Capitec claims that the system-wide network outage was due to an internal infrastructure issue the magnitude of which, the bank says, it had never experienced before. The issue was reportedly affecting its central servers.

“We have never experienced an issue of this magnitude and will continue to do our best to ensure that this does not happen again. We have system upgrades and tests in place to support this,” Viviers said.

Viviers said that Capitec paused all of its digital channels for about 40 hours to “ensure a sustainable recovery after one of [its] banking system databases slowed down sporadically.”

Although its clients could not access the banking app, USSD and internet banking, Capitec says that its team prioritised making sure that clients could still access their money at point-of-sales (such as in shops) and ATMs.

Capitec experienced a similar outage in 2021 where customers reported that they were unable to gain access to the mobile banking app. This outage was, however, much shorter and operations returned relatively quickly.

By Luis Monzon
Follow Luis Monzon on Twitter
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