Not Total Inability To Support Usual Payments?
Total Inability To Support Usurious Plastic?
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 …
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.
"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'".
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.
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.
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.
"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.
"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?
- 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.
"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."
being curious, which bank ? I am using HSBC and have seen nothing to suggest they'd tell me about every transaction (or even just large ones - but theirs is dumb in some ways)...
But at least for a transfer to some (random) sort code + account number (as might be entered by a hacker) it needs a security code to be entered from a credit-card size calculator style device...
"At the end of the day, I'm not reliant on the card to purchase anything THERE AND THEN." - not wanting to suggest any problem occurs but there are times when some airline shuts their doors unexpectedly, or a volcanic dust cloud grounds all flights, so there may be a time when a large and unexpected expense (several unscheduled days in what might be the last vacant room in a luxury hotel), so things can happen however much you usually plan.
"Do you people not use Direct Debit for your bills.... How is that any different?"
(a) they are either for fixed sums, or you need to be notified in advance, and (b) the DD Guarantee means you can get a refund quite quickly if something goes wrong, hopefully without any bank charges if you go overdrawn temporarily.
YMMV, and while cashless works for you, it seems like plenty of readers prefer to have use of both. I have no plans to move to Sweden which is mostly cashless - and may cause some tourists problems if they have even a temporary block on card use...
" 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.
"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!
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.
"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.
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.
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.
"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?
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.
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 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.)
 Plenty of software failures though. *Cough* Allegedly.
"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 !!!
"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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 :-)
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 :-)
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.
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.
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 ...
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.
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.
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
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*¹ go cashless doesn't mean we should.
*¹ 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.
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 --->
"The only problem I noticed was a rather long response time - minutes - on verified by visa."
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.
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.
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..."
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.
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.
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....
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...
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.
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.
...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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