March 23, 2011

A system outage affecting some 1,600 ATMs in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami could have Mizuho Bank in trouble with Japanese regulators.

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported that the outage delayed $10 billion worth of transactions, including the salaries of 620,000 people.

"We will ask Mizuho to submit a formal report at the correct time," Bloomberg cites Japan Financial Services Minister Shozaburo Jimi saying at a press conference. "We will scrutinize the contents of the report and take the appropriate action."

During the outages, Mizuho reportedly extended its branch hours. Because of the affect the ATM outages had on customers, Mizuho staff members were said to have been standing outside in the cold apologizing for the inconvenience.

The outages began days after the earthquake on March 15. Mizuho, Japan's second-largest bank has more than 5,000 ATM total. More than 1 million transactions were delayed as a result of Mizuho's outages, and as a result, the bank's president, Satoru Nishibori, turned down an appointment to lead the Japanese Bankers Association.

Wells Fargo, the fourth largest U.S. bank, suffered a brief outage in February to most of its 12,000 ATMs. Bank of America and Chase, the two largest banks in the United States have each had online banking outages in the last six months. Unlike Japan, where there is talk of government penalty for Mizuho's outage, the worst the U.S. banks had to deal with during recent troubles has been customer dissatisfaction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR