Visa pins end-of-week outage on 'hardware failure'

Visa ruled out malicious attack after resolving an outage affecting millions across Europe

An immigration visa stamp

Visa has blamed a hardware failure for an outage that saw millions across Europe unable to use their cards for purchases on Friday.

The disruption, which was first detected on Friday afternoon and lasted through to the evening, resulted in many users unable to complete transactions or use their card to purchase goods and services.

The financial services company, which enjoys a 66% market share across Europe, ruled out cyber attack or unauthorised access, apologising for the disruption in a statement on Friday night - adding the issue "was the result of a hardware failure".

Shortly after 10pm on Friday night, Visa said its services were operating at "close to normal levels," before releasing a second statement six hours later assuring users the problems had been completely resolved.

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"Visa has resolved a technical issue which occurred yesterday in Europe and prevented some consumers from using Visa for payments," the company said in the early hours of Saturday.

"The issue was the result of a hardware failure within one of our European systems and is not associated with any unauthorised access or cyberattack.

"Visa Europe's payment system is now operating at full capacity, and Visa account holders can now use Visa for any of their purchases and at ATMs, as they normally would."

A third statement issued on Saturday evening, however, explained that while the technical issue had been resolved, "a small number of cardholders may have pending transactions that could be limiting their spending ability."

Meanwhile, Visa's underlying systems have come under scrutiny, with Virgin Red's CTO Paul Lomax sceptical over whether or not they are fit for purpose.

"A hardware failure should not cause an outage if you have modern infrastructure," Lomax Tweeted. "Either VISA's systems are not fit for purpose, or they're run incompetently, or they're lying."

"Occum's razor is Option 1, and it all runs off old unsupported physical servers," he continued, adding: "You can stick layers on top all you like but if there's a mainframe at the bottom of the stack, outages are just a matter of time I guess."

IT Pro asked Visa to expand on the nature of the hardware failure and how this led to such a widespread outage, as well as whether any lingering issues yet remain for Visa users.

A spokesperson provided a link to Visa's latest statement, and said the company would not be saying anything else publicly.

Photo: Bigstock

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