back to article Visa Europe fscks up Friday night with other GDPR: 'God Dammit, Payment Refused'

Businesses and punters in Europe are in for a long and frustrating night – after Visa's payment services in the region went TITSUP: a Total Inability To Support Usual Purchases. The credit card processor confirmed Friday it had suffered an outage and was working on a solution. Right now, you can't buy stuff online or in stores …

  1. Colabroad

    Not Total Inability To Support Usual Payments?

    Total Inability To Support Usurious Plastic?

    1. monty75 Silver badge

      El Reg is suffering Total Inability To Supply Unique Pun

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Some things are priceless. For everything else - there's MasterCard.

  2. The Boojum
    FAIL

    Ah! That was the problem.

  3. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Useless, incompetent bastards

    Maybe you should have invested some of last year's $12bn pre tax profit into basic stuff like the systems and procedures to operate reliably?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lessons will be learned.

      Such as how often a reduction or loss of service the market can bear while still taking in $12 pre tax profit per year.

    2. tfb Silver badge

      Re: Useless, incompetent bastards

      When was the last Visa outage again?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Useless, incompetent bastards

        I'll post this nice and near the top - not saying its the issue but...

        https://perspectives.mvdirona.com/2017/04/at-scale-rare-events-arent-rare/

        TL;DR? running big data centres is hard regardless of how much you spend...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cash in the Northern Quarter? Good luck with that one.

  5. J J Carter Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Fools and their credit...

    Why, oh why did VISA schedule upgrading to Windows 10 Spring 2018 Edition on a Friday!

    1. Alumoi

      Re: Fools and their credit...

      That's the problem, they didn't schedule it. It was forced down their as..., erm throa... erm machines.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cashless society

    So we’re being told the future is cashless.

    Yet many were only able to purchase stuff using cash.

    Not a great advert for cashless is it?

    I for one do not want to see a cashless society. A system crash, power outage or a communications failure would be sufficient to make us all literally penny less.

    So that’s a no thanks from me.

    1. 89724102371719511892724I9755670349743096734346773478647852349863592355648544996313855148583659264921

      Re: Cashless society

      ...also something like The Carrington Event

      1. AlJahom

        Re: Cashless society

        Rather that than The Cricklewood Incident

      2. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Cashless society

        ...also something like The Carrington Event

        ...also something like A Carrington Event

        FTFY

    2. robidy

      Re: Cashless society

      If a piece of hardware can block some half a billion visa cards from working...what the heck could a determined hacker do?

      Seriously, multi-million pound profit companies have better hardware redundancy...

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Cashless society

        "It was caused by a hardware failure" is no excuse - it is not even an adequate explanation.

        I think I may call this Archtech's Rule. (It's high time I had one of my own).

        "Anyone who decides to do something using a computer system is fully responsible for ALL consequences of that decision. There is no 'the computer made me do it' or 'the computer ate your money'".

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: Cashless society

          Simultaneous identical ( or complementary) hardware failure on all their backups ? Wow.

          Bad luck's a bugger. Really hurts when it hits, eh ?

          Obviously there wouldn't be a single point of failure or a domino crash in a professionally-engineered system. So maybe it was done by amateurs, or worse, accountants.

          1. tfb Silver badge

            Re: Cashless society

            Or may be they, like all the other financial IT systems in the world, have a complicated system which has been carefully engineerd to be redundant but where people missed some obscure chain of events where there was not enough redundancy. If you've worked in financial IT you'll understand how common that is, and how hard it is to get right.

          2. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: Cashless society

            "Bad luck's a bugger. Really hurts when it hits, eh ?"

            To which I reply with:

            "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have".

            - Thomas Jefferson

        2. Ken 16 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Should've gone serverless

          No hardware, no problem.

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Cashless society

        If a piece of hardware can block some half a billion visa cards from working

        That was my first thought when I heard about it on the radio - this was not caused by a hardware failure, this was caused by inadequate/faulty business continuity planning. If the BC plan had been adequate AND had been correctly implemented, then there would have been a minimal outage for a minimal period of time.

        The scale of the outage (EU wide) and it's duration clearly shout that the BC plan was not adequate or was not correctly followed. So it was a preventable outage.

        So what's that about having all your eggs in one basket ? Can't remember the last time I was offered the opportunity of having a Mastercard, it seemed everything was Visa these days.

        1. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: Cashless society

          Hardware failure should never take down systems like these, because they should be designed to cope with the predictable event where the one HD pops just when the HDS pair is offline for maintenance whils the UPS is temporarily in an 'at risk'; state....

      3. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Cashless society

        Almost as if the immediate PR explanation is a bit sketchy, or something

    3. matjaggard

      Re: Cashless society

      I'd rather have the odd outage than carry stuff with inherent value around with me. I can block everything else when I lose it. I've had to use cash about 5 times this year due to dinosaur organisations, hopefully they'll catch up soon.

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Cashless society

        "I'd rather have the odd outage than carry stuff with inherent value around with me. "

        Says the bloke with no smartphone? And no experience of ID theft either :)

        My wife and my mum don't like carrying cash around, and both have had their card cloned and lost several hundred quid as a result. We only got it back (my mum was too embarrassed to argue) when I made a complaint, as the card was used in the Netherlands and then in Malaysia an hour apart. Oh, and it got declined 8 times at the Malaysian ATM, but it turns out that if you keep trying it'll work (!?!?!).

        " I've had to use cash about 5 times this year due to dinosaur organisations"

        You're doing pretty well then. I have to, about once a month, pay cash because some twat hasn't got any, and their plastic doesn't work at the particular venue we're at. No, not every shop takes Visa/Amex/MC. No, your UK debit card won't work on the European network. Yes, it's annoying. Yes, it's exactly what happened last time.....

        Funniest was going to giant snuffelmarkt (flea market), and my friend was confused at why he couldn't pay by card the one euro entrance fee or pretty much any of the stalls.

        Kids these days....

        Then again, I'm old fashioned enough to keep savings in gold and silver.

        1. Gordan

          Re: Cashless society

          "No, your UK debit card won't work on the European network."

          I call bullshit. I take a road trip across Europe every year and have to buy fuel, food and on occasion get cash out of an ATM, and can confirm that my UK debit card always works just fine in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria. Also always worked fine in US. Further, you pre-emptively contradicted your own previous statement on this very subject by saying:

          "... card cloned and lost several hundred quid as a result. We only got it back (my mum was too embarrassed to argue) when I made a complaint, as the card was used in the Netherlands and then in Malaysia an hour apart"

          So the cloned card did in fact work in Netherlands and Malaysia?

          1. Lee D Silver badge

            Re: Cashless society

            - I don't carry cash.

            - I've never had a card cloned (stop letting it out of your sight / refuse to plug it into anything dodgy-looking).

            - I have an app for my bank that tells me if anyone is doing anything on my card, and specifically warns me immediately on big transactions. You can't do that with cash, and it's a prudent thing to do on any account.

            - I carry several different types of card (it's not hard, a pre-pay MasterCard/Visa card costs you virtually nothing and works in every country I've ever tried it).

            - At the end of the day, I'm not reliant on the card to purchase anything THERE AND THEN. Any significant purchase is considered, planned and done in advance. I've not going to starve even if Visa goes offline for a week.

            Do you people not use Direct Debit for your bills, your mortgage/rent, your council tax? How is that any different?

            Side-point: I've never been mugged or burgled. But for sure if I had, I've rather they stole cards I can cancel than cash that would just disappear.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Cashless society

              @LeeD you are a smug twat and I claim my $5

          2. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: Cashless society

            " I take a road trip across Europe every year and have to buy fuel, food and on occasion get cash out of an ATM, and can confirm that my UK debit card always works just fine in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria".

            Except when it doesn't - as the article points out.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cashless society

            "I take a road trip across Europe every year and have to buy fuel, food and on occasion get cash out of an ATM, and can confirm that my UK debit card always works just fine"

            We drove east on the M4 from Bristol on Friday and wondered why the westbound M4 was solid and notr moving all the way to the Bath junction .... later on we heard the news of long delays at the Severn Bridge tolls due to people getting to the barrier and finding they were unable to pay by card - assuming the queue was going all that way then that's a 25 mile queue.

            Anyway, it perhaps explains why the bridge authorities resisited these new fangled credit/debit cards for decades!

    4. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Cashless society

      In the future ordinary people will have no money anyway, so it won't make any difference. Look at the graphs - everywhere on the Web - showing the increasing proportion of wealth owned by the richest 1% (or less).

      Ordinary people will bunk in dormitories run by their owners, er employers, eat at company troughs, er canteens, and work the rest of the time to pay some of the interest on their ever-increasing debts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cashless society

        and that is history repeating itself.

      2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Closed, time-like curves

        "Ordinary people will bunk in dormitories run by their owners, er employers, eat at company troughs, er canteens, and work the rest of the time to pay some of the interest on their ever-increasing debts."

        cf Company Scrip.

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Closed, time-like curves

          "cf Company Scrip."

          Precisely.

          Ordinary working people got out from under following WW2, but by 1980 normal service was being resumed.

        2. J. Cook Bronze badge

          Re: Closed, time-like curves

          "I load sixteen tons,

          What do ya get?

          Another day older and deeper in debt.

          I load sixteen tons,

          What do ya get?

          And I owe my soul to the company store."

          - Sixteen Tons (My preference is the Tennessee Ernie Ford version of it, but ymmv.)

          That was a Thing; It was largely outlawed in the 1930's here in the Untied Snakes of Amerika, but there are probably a few that still exist here and world-wide. Nice idea in that magical place known as Theory, but here in Reality? Not so much.

      3. ToddRundgrensUtopia

        Re: Cashless society

        Archtech are you John McDonnel in disguise?

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Cashless society

          Who he?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cashless society

      Cashless is all well and good, assuming you're happy with all your purchases being tracked and profiled ot course.

      However, always ensure you have enough cash in for your last meal and a few drinks so you can sit back and watch the world collapse into chaos with a full stomach.

    6. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: Cashless society

      Went to a beer festival last year- the organisers were touting the whole event as cashless and were telling people not to bother bringing cash- even went as far as insinuated that cash would probably not be accepted. When I got there, there were massive lines at all the paypoints, turns out the entire credit card system had crashed. Thankfully, I'd bought cash with me. On the plus side, there wasn't any queues at any of the bars.

  7. Chronos Silver badge
    Joke

    TITSUP

    "Tonight I Tried Some Unusual Payments.

    The barman took the promissory note from me and I stood bemused as he proceeded to put it in a little drawer that went "ding" as it opened. No PIN was requested and he kept the note, telling me to bog off when I asked for it back. How am I to pay for the next round without my promissory note if they won't give it back? Should I call the police?"

    Have we reached that stage yet?

  8. Herring`

    How long before the cash machines are empty?

    Glad I bought beer before all this started.

    1. robidy

      In the pub early or using cash?

      It started not long after lunch.

  9. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

    You-all might be joking but I wouldn't be totally surprised if they did end up blaming GDPR. If this doesn't affect the rest of the planet then someone's gonna have to find something else pretty damn interesting to blame...

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Well, the sort of acceptable scapegoats this week are GDPR, Climate Change, Iran, or Trump. Which would you pick?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Trump. Always!

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          The bloody awful Warsaw Concerto.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Spike Milligan reference!

            You Sir, deserve a beer!

            1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

              I will never not blame the bloody awful Warsaw Concerto.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        acceptable scapegoats this week are GDPR, Climate Change, Iran, or Trump. Which would you pick?

        Yes.

        I'm sure that, ultimately, they are all the same root cause..

  10. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I for one always try to have about 50 quid in cash on me at any one time, just in there is a problem with paying by card or getting money out of the ATMs.

    Something must have fscked up big time to take down Visa payment all over Europe, wonder how much in lost revenue it will cost? I bet AMEX and Mastercard are rubbing their hands with glee.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Something must have fscked up big time to take down Visa payment all over Europe

      I seem to recall that Visa used to use IBM big iron running TFP - I wonder if they still do? Because it's pretty difficult to think of a harware failure[1] that'll take down a properly-running IBM mainframe..

      (Other than complete cooler failure of course. Which is why you have multiple coolers. The only other thing I can think of is a power outage closely followed by the standby generator(s) failing.)

      [1] Plenty of software failures though. *Cough* Allegedly.

  11. MyffyW Silver badge

    Definitely an argument for having an Amex and Mastercard .... until they fail

    1. Credas Silver badge

      This is exactly why I have Visa, Mastercard and Amex cards.It doesn't guarantee you won't get buggered, but it does make it less likely.

      1. Uffish

        Other cards are available.

        I noticed in another journal that we are advised to keep note of any expenses associated with the Visa titsup. Would the annual fees for alternative cards be considered a legitimate claim on Visa.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Other cards are available.

          None of my cards have annual fees. The ones I use most of the time give me cashback.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Impressive ........

        "This is exactly why I have Visa, Mastercard and Amex cards.It doesn't guarantee you won't get buggered, but it does make it less likely."

        The side benefits & facilities you get with cards have certainly improved with time.!!!

        Missed the brochure pitching that feature !!!

        I only got a Calculator/Security code gizmo with mine !!!

        ;)

      3. jabuzz

        I only have Visa and Mastercard credit cards, but I do make sure that they are from totally separate banks. Then for good measure I have a stash of cash in the house, ten crisp each of the three lowest denotation notes.

        1. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Then for good measure I have a stash of cash in the house, ten crisp each of the three lowest denotation notes.

          So there's a net profit of £105 minimum from turning your gaff over? Be seeing you soon!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Um. 10 x 5 + 10 x 10 + 10 x 20 = £350

            1. Ledswinger Silver badge

              Um. 10 x 5 + 10 x 10 + 10 x 20 = £350

              I always burgle with two accomplices and a dog. The £105 is my share after we split it.

              1. robidy

                Don't give details of your method..just call it nett profit.

                1. Archtech Silver badge

                  That's the system...

                  http://radiofreethinker.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/salt-lake-tribune-political-cartoon-federal-reserve-bank-robbers.jpg

                2. Maverick
                  Headmaster

                  or even 'net' profit

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                I hope you pay the dog.

                1. Mike Flex

                  "I hope you pay the dog."

                  £35, apparently.

                  Should cover a juicy bone and a decent supply of dog treats.

                  1. Ledswinger Silver badge

                    "I hope you pay the dog."......£35, apparently. Should cover a juicy bone and a decent supply of dog treats.

                    That's quite right. The dog is the brains of our burglarising quartet, but happily takes a lower cut since he knows it won't be him serving a spell of porridge if we get caught, and he's got less use for the loot as he sees more benefit in being able to lick his own todger than investing in fast cars, luxury goods and Burberry.

                    The gang meeting where everybody experimented to see if they too could do what the dog does....well, it wasn't pretty, and it wasn't successful for three of the four.

              3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                I always burgle with two accomplices and a dog. The £105 is my share after we split it.

                That's a ruff deal for the dog. I bet it's handler takes all its money and wastes it on booze..

              4. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Nick Kew Silver badge

              Um. 10 x 5 + 10 x 10 + 10 x 20 = £350

              Um ... don't the Jocks still have £1 notes?

              That doesn't give us an explanation of £105, but it does hint at how one might look for it.

              For your bonus question, why did I regularly pay between £10000 and £20000 for a pizza in the 1990s?

            3. Velv Silver badge
              Coat

              “Um. 10 x 5 + 10 x 10 + 10 x 20 = £350”

              Technically RBS £1 notes are still in circulation, so £160

      4. Ledswinger Silver badge

        This is exactly why I have Visa, Mastercard and Amex cards.It doesn't guarantee you won't get buggered, but it does make it less likely.

        That helps a bit. But if the company you want to use your Mastercard/Amex with has Visa as its merchant services provider, they still can't accept any card payments, no matter which company name is on the card. As anybody in certain shops will have seen in the chaotic scenes yesterday afternoon, although those of us who moved quickly were able to clean out the nearest cash machines.

        People complain about ramshackle banking systems and there's a lot of truth there; But worth thinking that if the industry were redesigned from the ground up, they'd probably have a single payments processor, and that would act as the processor for cash machines as well. In that instance a system failure would have left people with no cards and no cash machines.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "...has Visa as its merchant services provider,"

          Visa aren't a merchant service provider, even the visanet service is an interface from an MSP unless you are a very large instituition, generally in the financial sector.

        2. Archtech Silver badge

          "But worth thinking that if the industry were redesigned from the ground up, they'd probably have a single payments processor, and that would act as the processor for cash machines as well".

          On the reasonable assumption that it would be designed by a moronic baboon fixated on quarterly profits, maybe.

          Then again, if it were designed by people like those who created the Internet, it might work pretty reliably.

  12. Thoguht Silver badge

    Cash?

    This cash stuff is all very well but governments don't like it because they can't track it (or impose negative interest rates on it either). I mean, look what happened in India. So basically don't expect cash to last much longer.

    You can quote me on this when the current £50 note is withdrawn with no polymer replacement.

    1. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: Cash?

      I doubt that will happen... How will the politicians get their brown envelopes filled with no electronic trail then?

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: Cash?

        How will the politicians get their brown envelopes filled with no electronic trail then?

        You may have noticed we little people are often inconvenienced by stupid, shithead bureaucracy in the name of "preventing money laundering". But to judge by crime reports, fraudsters, serious and organised criminals have no problems moving and laundering cash, if anything its easier than ever for them to cover their tracks.

        So don't you worry about the Establishment filling their boots, they'll do just fine.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cash?

          Barclays will only allow transfers and withdrawals of £10,000 due to 'money laundering regulations', unless you pay them a fee of £25~£35 for a chaps payment (obviously money launderers wouldn't dare pay that) or you are one of their premier or higher net worth customers who also get special deals to move excess money around and with greater secrecy also.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cash?

            "Barclays will only allow transfers and withdrawals of £10,000 due to 'money laundering regulations' "

            In the US that's known as Title 31 regulations.

            Anon for various reasons. :)

        2. Tom Paine Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Cash?

          Spoken like a true random bloke down the pub with zero domain knowledge.

      2. Tom Paine Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Cash?

        Astoundingly, that's part of the point. Plus all the stuff about PEPs in the AML training I have to sit through every year.

        They'll be paid by BACS transfers, just like all the other Directors, consultants, non-execs, advisors and whatnot swirling around the seats of power (note: not just Westminster. We haven't had the first major financial corruption scandal around the devolved Parliaments yet, AFAIK (don't think ash-for-cash counts) but it's in the post, sure as eggs is eggs. We all read Rotten Boroughs before skipping over to Funny Old World, right?

  13. Technogeek

    Wake up call

    This has to be treated as a "wake up call". Imagine the chaos that will ensue if the Internet gets totally screwed or even partially screwed. Not only no credit cards but no just in time transport to feed us all and loads of zombies staggering helplessly round the streets smashing their heads against their dark fondleslabs!!!

    Large systems like Visa become single points of failure for society, the impact from being unavailable is profound. Its a fools paradise to think you can prevent this sort of event from happening again. Imagine a scenario where all the under sea fibre cables are snipped by a not so friendly submarine, what about all the Internet Of Things going dark, all the lost services from AWS, Google and others. Me? I'm off to Mars on a BFR :-)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Wake up call

      "what about all the Internet Of Things going dark"

      That comes under the heading of every Cloud having a silver lining.

    2. Solviva

      Re: Wake up call

      Once upon a time you used to place your card in a mechanical machine rather than electronic, which made a reasonable clone of your card. You then proceeded to scribble on the paper containing the clone et voila!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wake up call

        I remember that well and for purchases over a certain amount the cashier had to call the payment company to verify the purchase.

        1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

          Re: Wake up call

          I remember supermarkets where you had to go to a payment desk first to get your card verified and only then could you use it at the till.

      2. Technogeek
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Wake up call

        Yep, I remember those days (shit that long ago?) but at least you didn't need leccy to power it all up. I paid for petrol one day in a power cut, the attendant had to hand pump the fuel into the car. Then using a torch so we could see in the attendant hut he "embossed" my card on the carbon paper and gave me the customer copy. Statements came in the post and I wrote cheques for the card balance each month. Easy peasy lemon squeezy :-)

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Wake up call

        you used to place your card in a mechanical machine rather than electronic, which made a reasonable clone of your card

        Which, in some places, you still can. The retailers hate it becuase the credit card company then transfers any liability to them..

        So, if you use a chip 'n pin card and it's dodgy, the credit card company still pays the vendor. If the vendor uses a swipe-machine on a dodgy card, the vendor doesn't get paid by the CC company.

        Which is why most vendors don't do swipe-card any more.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Also, embossed cards are going the way of the cheque

          Expect new cards to be smooth printed for "security" and "UX" reasons and fortuitously they also happen to be cheaper to make.

      4. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Wake up call

        True story! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB81UgdqgT0

    3. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Wake up call

      Welcome to 2003. Enjoy your stay. If you look over to your right in a few minutes, after the DCOM worm you'll see the swine flu pandemic and SARS coming up, Keep a look out for the BA and RBS/NatWest outages, and every second lame technothriller at local station's WH Smiths.

  14. Jacob's Elevator

    Like a MORON, touched for the very first time ....

    This is REALLY a warning about the dangers of a CASHLESS economy.

    Use it or lose it; cash that is.

    As for the pun.

    Try MASSIVE OSCILLATORS RADIATING OBJECTIONABLE NOISE SIGNALS as a euphemism for the eastern EU and sometimes Northern UK factory based High-Frequency Power oscillators used in Wood and Plastic factories for quick fixing industrial Glues. I came up with that one, after I found a discarded MORON down my local scrap-yard in Yorkshire. I disassembled it and built a legal limit Amateur Radio HF amplifier from some of the parts. I mean high power, like several Kilowatts these MORONS.

    Enjoy your cashless weekend ...

  15. stefbishop

    You can buy a lot of beer with a bitcoin

  16. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Now

    There are presumably TSB account holders thinking that at least they had a Visa card to see them through the problems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now

      Haven't they just taken the crown^haward for the first big GDPR data breach....looks like the new CTO can fsck it up more than the last...

  17. heyrick Silver badge

    Strange...

    The article was posted at 17:50 (I assume British time). I used my Visa card to purchase some stuff in Brittany at about 18h50 (French time), no problem there...?

    But, yes, as others have pointed out, my other card is a MasterCard, just so that I have available payment methods on different (unrelated) networks (and from different banks). If a silly little bit of plastic is what determines whether or not I have dinner to eat, it doesn't hurt to be a little paranoid. Especially given the banking sector's general "oh well, something went wrong, not our problem, move along now" attitude. Do you think if I wrote a cheque for money I don't have, I could use the same nonchalant "don't really give a shit" attitude with them? So, different cards, different networks, different banks. Otherwise known to us geeks as: have a working backup.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Strange...

      So, different cards, different networks, different banks.

      For all practical purposes, you;ve got a choice of two equally dodgy systems run by lazy thieving bastards. For people who believe percentages, that's fine. As an "orders of magnitude" sort of chap, I don't have quite the same confidence in the cartel of two.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Strange...

      Our first call about it was at approx 15.50 BST

      We don't have many on site and it was a quiet day but we had 2 calls in the space of about 3 minutes!

  18. Electric Panda

    SAN

    Bet you it was something to do with a SAN that lead to a database issue. That is usually covered in the postmortem for banking systems.

  19. PB90210
    Pint

    by coincidence, every ad break seems to feature an ad showing just how easy it is to pay for your drinks using a contactless Visa card... or rather for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to offer to pay for your drinks with just a deft wave of his hand over the card reader instead of watching you fumble for the right cash.

    Presumably this will be replaced with one showing you arranging a whip-round to cover his slate now his card has been declined

  20. Milton Silver badge

    Auguries of bad things

    Does anyone here suppose that Vlad the Emailer and his little coterie of crooks does not have a three-ring binder contingency plan and gigbytes of code ready to wreak havoc in western banking systems if and when the urge takes them?

    Try to imagine the disruption and chaos if all payment methods get screwed for say, just one week.

    Then imagine that happpening in a cashless society.

    Just because we can go cashless doesn't mean we should.

    Yes, I know governments love the idea, because it gives them even more control and surveillance of citizens: but governments, I would remind you, are monumentally stupid and short-sighted and run by a self-selecting sample of the worst characters the country can spawn. Not a good place to look for your best interests.

    1. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Auguries of bad things

      And how many days' cash would you advise keeping on hand? 24h? a week? a month? Some Ulsterbank customers affected by the RBS/NatWest outage were out of luck for 6-8 weeks as I recall. I don;'t know about you but I drink a LOT of beers in 8 weeks./...

  21. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Coat

    Well, we went out last night...

    A minor celebration, a meal and the cinema (I know how to show the missus a good time!)

    And the whole evening was ruined - ruined, I say! - when both the restaurant and the cinema cheerfully accepted my visa card.

    The only problem I noticed was a rather long response time - minutes - on verified by visa.

    The one with the chequebook in the pocket, please --->

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: Well, we went out last night...

      "The only problem I noticed was a rather long response time - minutes - on verified by visa."

      Wait, what?

      Verified by visa... on over-the-counter payments? Am I missing something? Do I not use my card enough in over the counter transactions1 to have noticed this happening?

      1. Which is very rarely. Cash is king.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, we went out last night...

        "Cash is king."

        No, Elvis is king. Cash is the Man in Black.

        1. Aspie73

          Re: Well, we went out last night...

          No, the Man in Black is William

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Well, we went out last night...

          Elvis is king. Cash is the Man in Black.

          Surely the past tense would be more appropriate for both..

      2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Well, we went out last night...

        Verified by visa for the cinema ticket, bought online.

        1. VinceH Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Well, we went out last night...

          Ah, of course - should have thought of that!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fixed it for Visa

    Visa Europe has been in touch to blame not having a redundant hardware architecture

  23. Grease Monkey

    Visa never tire of telling us that their cards are more convenient than cash. So maybe they can tell us when the last time was that cash stopped working.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "So maybe they can tell us when the last time was that cash stopped working."

      When my pocket was empty.

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: "So maybe they can tell us when the last time was that cash stopped working."

        There are plenty of places in Sweden that don't accept cash any more. It's card or nothing.

    2. Doctor_Wibble
      Devil

      > the last time was that cash stopped working.

      A word in your shell-like? 6th July 2014, London buses...

      Though maybe that doesn't count as it wasn't accidental, what with being part of the overall plan to stop us peasants using real money?

  24. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    Three is the magic number plus paper back-up.

    You want more? We used to turn things off with planned secrecy. #inoutinoutshakeitallabout #code10 #doyoutakecache

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To EL Reg

    Isn't it time to have a TITSUP section that collates all the outages and disasters in one place?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad workmen blame their tools.

    Why is that when a banking system fails the computer gets the blame; when a gun law fails it is the irrational owner who gets the blame?

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Bad workmen blame their tools.

      Could it be because, unlike computer systems, guns don't spontaneously explode exactly targeting a school child or a woman who wouldn't have sex with the nut holding the gun?

      The closet analogy I can imagine is having a loaded gun in your backpack, and the safety fail and the gun go off. Whatever the idiocy of doing that, the mechanical failure played a role.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Bad workmen blame their tools.

        The closet analogy I can imagine is having a loaded gun in your backpack, and the safety fail and the gun go off. Whatever the idiocy of doing that, the mechanical failure played a role.

        Reality: "Hold my beer..."

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44349521

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For anything else..

    .. wasn't there Mastercard? Oh no, that's on the same network now. Bugger.

    F*ckwits.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For anything else..

      My mastercard debit worked fine throughout.

      The staff at Asda were a bit surprised though.. I think they thought like you that they were the same thing.

  28. acid andy
    Joke

    365 Days a Year

    "Our goal is to ensure all Visa cards work reliably 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

    Oh! I'd better cancel my regular 29th February shopping sprees then. What a pity. That's my favorite time of the year for extravagant card purchases!

  29. jMcPhee

    Do you believe...

    ... that they are honest enough to have admitted to a hack? For another unpatched vulnerability? That was their fault?

    1. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Do you believe...

      There are these things called regulators. And jails.

  30. John Savard Silver badge

    They Can Improve

    Since it was possible for a hardware failure to cause an outage such as this, no doubt they will be upgrading their systems to provide better upgrade and failover. Plus, some improvement to the software so that charges won't be made to accounts if payments aren't made due to a failure would be advisable.

    I think this is probably doable, so we won't be seeing problems like this agan.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Highly redundant architecture

    Dis a stint there a few years ago.

    There architecture is highly redundant.

    Two data centres with a complete redundancy in each data centre.

    I.E. four times the hardware they need for peak load. So they certainly did not skimp on the cash.

    Still there is always something unforeseen that will prevent failover.

    2 hours downtime in fifteen years is not so bad. Just a few months short of 6 sigma.

    1. robidy

      Re: Highly redundant architecture

      I'm not sure how you get to 2 hours, payments we failing from about 14.00 and they were still failing at gone 18.00.

      Any downtime when more payments are made using visa that any other method is not acceptable.

      I do wonder if you did your stint in VISA's PR department....

  32. spold Bronze badge

    New backup...

    Visa Barter

    15 quid? - I'll give you some used underpants, half an M&S prawn sandwich, and 4 jelly babies.

    What you mean a tip? - OK small bag of groats...

  33. PB90210
    Coat

    I was queueing in Sainsbury's last night behind a little old lady. After they had scanned her goods, she presented her Visa card but it was declined. It was Friday night, I'd just been paid and I was feeling generous... so I helped her put all the stuff back on the shelves...

    I'll get me coat...

  34. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. tmerchant

    For a company that does payment processing VISA sure seems short on cash

    There is no excuse for this, their system should be fully redundant. And it should have been fixed within minutes not hours or days. I don't understand how every other payment processing firm with a lower budget manages this just fine but VISA can't handle basic infrastructure.

  36. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    Is it me, or does a lot of failures at the moment have IBM in the report ?

    1. Tom Paine Silver badge

      post hoc, ergo prompter hoc?

      (Anyone got the spare time to do a survey and get some data? Didn;t think so. See, THIS is why I NEED to win the lottery... are you listening, universe?

  37. Alan Brown Silver badge

    More fun on the way

    News reports this morning are saying that in at least a few of the cases money was taken from accounts whilst the transaction was reported as declined.

  38. luis river

    to investigate

    IBM or HPE fault tolerant "Tándem" (Integrity non stop) To investigate

  39. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    It's a good job I didn't know this, because if I had known it I might not have been able to made several successful purchases with my Visa card on Friday (chip-and-pin, contactless and Amazon) as well as withdraw cash.

  40. georget

    Always have a backup plan

    As with everything in life, there is no excuse for not having a dual vendor strategy

    1. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Always have a backup plan

      As with everything in life, there is no excuse for not having a dual vendor strategy

      That's what I told her, and when I'd finished picking up my teeth her solicitor explained the drawback with that approach

  41. J. Cook Bronze badge
    Devil

    Playing devil's advocate here for a moment...

    I imagine that Visa has a geographically distributed multi-node cluster, but there's always a 'perfect storm' of failures that can cause an outage. This might have been one of them, but without any technical details, all I can do is make a WAG.

    Nothing is impossible, only improbable.

  42. Gustavo Fring

    has bitcoin central

    inserted a few agents into strategic positions .. you know to cause such outages?

    because this would never happen on a block chain :-)

  43. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Any updates?

    Surely someone has the inside story by now?

    AC "heard it down the pub" anecdotes accepted.

  44. steviebuk Silver badge

    Didn't think I got hit....

    ...my M&S lunch sandwich payment went through on that Friday. But then last night looked at my GSuite account last night and noticed payment had been rejected. I was confused. My credit card is fully paid off. Was about to talk to them today until I double checked. Then realised it was rejected on the Friday, during the "Great VISA crash". So that explains it then. As my bank gave Google "No reason for rejection" at the time of rejection.

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