Ethiopia's biggest bank rebounds from free money glitch

CBE has maintained that the mishap did not stem from a cyberattack on its digital systems

Ethiopia's biggest bank rebounds from free money glitch

In the past week, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE), the largest financial institution in the East African country, suffered a technical malfunction that allowed customers to illicitly withdraw millions from its coffers.

Account holders, particularly university students, exploited the system glitch to withdraw more funds than they had with the bank. News of the incident quickly spread across social media platforms, and cash dispensing machines across the nation were crowded as a result.

Although the precise amount lost remains under wraps, reports said the snafu led to half a million transactions; transfers, and withdrawals of about $40 million. However, following its appeal to customers, the bank has recovered most of the loot, which it clarifies is around $14 million.

In a fresh update, the bank claims to have gotten back more than 80% of the money. Its president, Abe Sano, disclosed that about 15,000 customers have willingly returned $10 million of the illegally taken funds. 567 people are yet to follow suit, the bank says.

On Tuesday, the CBE publicized the names and account details of the "culprits" in an attempt to cajole them into sending back the excess money in their possession. From the looks of it, the move has yielded some results, and the bank looks willing to let go of the leftovers.

“The total amount remaining is not significant for the bank, but if this money is not fully recouped, it sends the wrong message,” Abe is quoted to have said in a briefing with local reporters.

It is unclear how the problem started or what the cause could be. But the bank maintains that the mishap did not stem from a cyberattack on its digital systems. To allay mounting fears, it has assured customers that their accounts remain intact throughout the setback.

Since its inception in 1963, the CBE has amassed a customer base of over 40 million, and has become the largest bank in East Africa according to the level of tier 1 capital.

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