On Friday, June 1, 2018, just as most banks were closing for the weekend across Europe, the debit card system provided by Visa went into meltdown. The outage is believed to relate to UK customers, but as many of them are overseas for half-term holidays, the impact is being felt right across Europe.
Customers are now rushing to ATMs in an attempt to collect funds before the machines run dry, with some families having no means of doing their weekly shopping. #visadown has quickly started trending on Twitter with angry customers voicing their concerns.
“On holiday in Sicily. Car hire has messed up and #visadown means card declined for trains. We owe our hosts €350 and need to get to Palermo from Taormina for flights. Can you help please??”
“People in a mad panic at the cash machines at Sainsbury’s due to the visa and MasterCard outage. It’s like civilisation just ended or something”
“Thoughts go out to all the single card-holders stranded in airports, petrol stations, pubs, shopping centres, and restaurants with no cash in their pockets.”
“Crazy #visadown this eve as I very rarely have cash. My fav comment is from the @guardian, “a check out manager at Morrison’s has been giving out old-style hand-held card machines and paper authentication slips to check out staff.” A whole generation doesn’t know what those are.”
At this present time, it’s not known if the Visa system has been hacked or if it’s an internal failure, but the impact is certainly being felt far and wide. Chris O’Connor in the USA sent the following Tweet to the Bank of Ireland: “Hi @talktoBOI, I’m in the US so don’t have access to a BOI ATM and am unable to withdraw cash. Can you advise on best route to resolution as this is causing me serious problems.”
From some of the Tweets, it appears that the failed transactions are being processed by the banks, so customers are being charged for goods and services that they haven’t received. In the coming weeks, it’s likely to be a mammoth task for the banks to unwind these transactions. This is yet another legacy fiat system that has failed following recent outages suffered by TSB in April and National Australia Bank in May.
Financial analyst, smartphone app designer, technical writer, and crypto enthusiast. Blockchain verified graduate of MOOC 9, DFIN-511: Introduction to Digital Currencies, run by the University of Nicosia.