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Ethiopia's bank glitch allows customers to withdraw millions

A system glitch at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia lets customers withdraw and transfer millions

On Saturday, customers at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) realised they could withdraw more cash than their account balances.

Local media reports say this event caused the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia to lose over $40 million. The bank took several hours to freeze transactions and address the issue.

BBC also reported that students made much of the money withdrawn as eyewitnesses saw long lines formed at campus ATMs. A student who attends Jimma University Institute of Technology said he "did not believe it was true" when his friends told him at around 01:00 local time (22:00 GMT) that it was possible to withdraw large amounts from ATMs or transfer the money using the bank's app.

Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) HQ

On the recent issue, CBE president Abe Sano said, "There have been attempted cyber attacks, but the bank's cyber security was not compromised." According to the CBE president, the glitch occurred while they were working to improve their banking system and the problem was attributed to a "missing code". They also suspended their service at the time to prevent additional loss.

The CBE president also said an investigation is underway, and customers who have made "high transactions" have been reported to the authorities. Universities have also joined efforts in assisting the bank by releasing statements asking students to return the money that did not belong to them.

The president has also assured the public that returning the money would not be charged with a criminal offence.