Card giant Visa has responded to the Treasury Committee’s demand for answers over what went wrong after a Visa system failure on 1 June left customers across Europe unable to make debit or credit card transactions.
In response to a letter from the Committee’s chair, Nicky Morgan MP, demanding answers over what led to the failure and how it could be prevented from happening again, Charlotte Hogg, chief executive of Visa Europe, has written to say that “a disruption to our processing that impacts customers at any time is unacceptable”.
Ms Hogg explained that the failure was down to a problem in its processing system, which saw a component within a switch in its primary data centre suffer “a very rare partial failure”, which prevented a back-up switch from operating and that it “immediately took steps to remedy the issue”.
She said that over the course of the incident, which lasted from 2.35pm on 1 June to 12.45am on 2 June, 91% of transactions of UK cardholders processed normally. She also pointed out that many cardholders tried to make the same transaction again at least once during the incident so that the failure rate for transactions was actually “approximately half” the 9% figure quoted.
She explained that there was also a focus on applying lessons learnt from the outage, adding that “we have been focused on identifying all necessary steps to prevent a reoccurrence (sic)”.
The Treasure Committee responded positively to Visa’s response, while making it clear that it expects to see the findings of an independent review, which will examine the lessons to be learnt from the incident.
Commenting on the correspondence, Mrs Morgan says: “The Treasury Committee is satisfied with Visa’s answers regarding its system failure earlier this month, which lasted just over 10 hours and saw 2.4 million transactions in the UK fail to process. It appears that the problems have been fully resolved.
“The news that debit card payments have overtaken cash use for the first time shows that the reliability of IT systems is becoming ever-more important. The detriment caused to consumers by IT failures is greater than ever, so the Committee will become less tolerant of them.”