Card users across Europe were failed by Visa on Friday 1st June, 2018 when the card giant's network crashed unexpectedly. One Twitter user described the chaos as a deleted scene from Lord of the Rings.
One glitch, and millions of people inconvenienced, reminding consumers and businesses alike that when things go wrong, cash is still king.
The disruption didn't stop with Visa cards alone, however. Transactions attempted with MasterCard and American Express cards were also disrupted when the connection was rerouted through Visa’s IT network.
Visa's dream of putting cash out of business did not become a living nightmare for people who remembered to carry cash either out of preference or just in case of an emergency. Well done, you!
In a crisis, a solid financial system has to prove how robust it is. Empirical data shows that in a crisis situation, the demand for cash typically rises sharply. The reason for this phenomenon is: trust in real currency.
Visa's Chief Executive Officer said in a statment,
"Our goal is to ensure all Visa payments work reliably 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We fell well short of this goal today and we apologize to all of our partners and Visa account holders for any inconvenience this may have caused." - Al Kelly (CEO, Visa)
Visa Issues: Card Problems Across the UK and Europe as Payment Systems Go Down
The Visa payment system has crashed, leaving some people unable to buy things or complete transactions.
Even shoppers not using Visa have been unable to make purchases, because the network provides payment systems for a range of shops and financial institutions.
Customers have reported arriving at tills to have their cards declined. Retailers say they have been left unable to take payments in shops, bars and other outlets, forcing them to resort to only taking cash or not making sales at all.
Visa says service returning to normal
Visa says its service is "close to normal" again following a system failure which left customers across Europe unable to make some purchases.
Barclays and Bank of Ireland advised customers to use ATMs to withdraw cash, which appear to still be working.
The company apologised and said it had no reason to believe the hardware failure was down to "any unauthorised access or malicious event".
Its statement came five hours after it had initially acknowledged the problem.
"I'm worried I won't be able to get home when I land in Toulouse as I have no cash for a taxi."
Visa is working to resolve the issue but one payments firm said transactions were now working intermittently but there was a backlog.
The Payment Systems Regulator told the BBC it understood the problem to be limited to Visa card payments only. Mastercard and American Express both said their networks were working.
How do you pay via card or smart device when the electronic infrastructure has crashed? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter.
BBC Visa considers incentives for UK firms to go cashless (14 July 2017)
Visa has said it is considering offering incentives to UK businesses to go cashless, after introducing a similar scheme in the US. The payments company is selecting 50 small companies in the US to receive $10,000 if they only use cards. The companies have to bid for the money by explaining how going cashless would affect them, their staff and customers.
The Guardian Visa card payments system returns to full capacity after crash (01 June 2018)
Visa’s payment system is operating at “full capacity” after a hardware failure affected customers in the UK and the rest of Europe on Friday....Millions of people were left unable to pay for goods and services across Europe after the unprecedented crash, which began at around 2.30pm....Major retailers had earlier confirmed that card purchases were failing. Queues built up at petrol stations and shopping was left at supermarket tills as customers were unable to pay.
Gizmodo Massive Network Crash Temporarily Renders Visa Cards Useless in UK and Europe (01 June 2018)
Despite the prevalence of credit cards and payment services like Venmo and Apple Pay, when things go wrong, cash is still king. And today, Europe and the UK got a really good reminder of that after a network crash prevented millions of Visa credit and debit card holders from making any transactions.
Cash Matters Poor Visa! The company now wants to pay people to use their product…
In an unprecedented act of despair, Visa announced plans to pay thousands of dollars to 50 small merchants. They would receive the money for restricting their customers’ choice when it came to payments by no longer allowing cash payments.