Payment chaos after Visa card crash across Europe
Shoppers faced frustration yesterday as Visa card payment systems crashed across the UK and Europe.
Shop tills and pay-as-you-go terminals at petrol stations would not accept card payments - forcing shoppers to revert to cash.
After a day of confusion, late last night Visa said that its services had returned to normal and claimed the issue was a result of a hardware failure.
Before then, in north Belfast, shopping trolleys piled high with weekly shopping were ditched by frustrated customers at one Asda store.
Staff said the card machines had been out of service for most of the day. When we visited in the evening, the shop was only accepting cash payments and a long queue of customers had formed at two ATM machines outside the store.
At Home Bargains in the nearby Cityside shopping centre, staff said that the Visa outage had been frustrating for both customers and staff.
"Our tills were only taking cards intermittently. We now have to put all the stuff from the abandoned trolleys back on the shelves in time for tomorrow -our busiest day of the week," one staff member said. "Just what we don't need."
At Tesco in Cityside, staff said it had been "crazy" there as the tills rejected card payments, but added that the situation seemed to ease after 7pm.
However, there were still problems with the "pay at the pump" system at the Tesco petrol station.
Frustrated shoppers took to social media to complain.
Stephen Bailie, a customer at Lidl's Bangor store, told the Belfast Telegraph last night via social media that it was "very embarrassing for a lady at teatime in Lidl in Bangor".
He said: "No cash, and her card was declined as the queue got bigger behind her."
There were also reports of the outage affecting Belfast International Airport, McDonald's restaurants and Iceland stores.
Shoppers in the Republic were also affected, with bank cardholders being advised that not only would their cards not work in shops, but that they could only withdraw cash from an ATM operated by their own bank because all inter-bank withdrawals were processed through the Visa system.
The knock-on effect led to long queues at ATMs, which began to run out of money as the evening progressed.
In a statement, Visa apologised to customers for the crash and ruled out hacking as the cause of the problem.
"Our goal is to ensure all Visa cards work reliably 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," the statement said.
"We fell well short of this goal today and we apologise to all of our partners, and most especially, to Visa cardholders.
"The issue was the result of a hardware failure.
"We have no reason to believe this was associated with any unauthorised access or malicious event."