Visa cards 'operating to close to normal levels'

Visa has ruled out a “malicious event” as the cause of customers being stranded at the tills because of a “service disruption” stopping payments from Visa cards.

The company said their service was now “operating at close to normal levels”.

For around six hours, businesses across Europe were unable to process some payments made using Visa cards, impacting potentially millions of customers.

Visa apologised for the problem, saying: “”Earlier today, Visa had a system failure that impacted customers across Europe.

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

“We fell well short of this goal today and we apologise to all of our partners, and most especially, to Visa cardholders.”

They say the fault was “the result of a hardware failure”.

£1 in every £3 spent in the UK is on a Visa card.

Around two hours after the fault came to light, some payments were reported to be working “intermittently”.

The extent and of the problem, which Visa called a “service disruption”, has not yet been clarified by Visa. Visa have also not commented on whether retailers will be compensated for lost earnings.

Some customers have reported that funds appear to have been taken from their accounts, despite payments being declined in-store.

Retailers including Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s confirmed they were affected, with Sainsbury’s commenting at the time: “We are aware that Visa are currently experiencing problems. We are doing our best to help our customers and apologise for any inconvenience.”

The Visa disruption was not exhaustive, with Transport For London not reporting any problems from Visa contactless users on their services.

Ian Walker 0:42
Video: 'Sort it out': Customer slams Visa

Some retailers resorted to putting up notices to warn customers that they are unable to take card payments.

Business owners are angry that they are losing sales as a result.

Sandra Foy, who owns a bookshop in Manchester, told Sky News: “I run a small business and the loss of any business is a big deal for us. Not knowing when this is going to be sorted out is incredibly frustrating.”

The payments were not working by the time she had to close her shop and Ms Foy feared the impact on her business if the issues run into tomorrow.

“It wasn’t working when I left work. It will impact badly if it is still down tomorrow, Saturday being our busiest day.”

A KFC had to post a sign to warn customers that they could only accept cash. Credit: Dan Heley
Image: A KFC in Weston-super-Mare had to post a sign to warn customers that they could only accept cash. Credit: Dan Heley

She tweeted her transaction provider Paymentsense asking: “Are we going to be compensated for the loss of money?”.

Paymentsense is one of a number of payment transaction companies which reported merchants using their service were struggling to take Visa card payments.

Worldpay, the UK’s leading payments provider, said: “Customers may be seeing intermittent transaction declines due to an issue Visa is currently experiencing in Europe with all acquirers.

“We will provide an update as soon as we have one.”

Lloyds Bank released a statement saying: “We are aware of an industry wide issue effecting Visa payments which is under investigation.

“ATM and Mastercard transactions are not impacted. We are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

Paymentsense provides transaction services to over 60,000 independent businesses across the UK and Ireland.

In a statement posted online, the company said: “There is currently a disruption of service in taking payments from VISA. It is affecting all payment providers across the UK and Ireland”.

Paymentsense said they were in touch with Visa and have apologised to customers “for any inconvenience”.

Around two hours after reporting the problems, Paymentsense said transactions were starting to go through but “there is still some intermittency.”

Customers have also used Twitter to vent about being unable to pay or being forced to get cash out.

Manchester-based user MancBee, posted a picture of a sign on the front of an Aldi supermarket that informed customers card payments were down.

“We’ve just been shopping and my Visa card didn’t work. Thankfully it did work at the cash machine, on the side of the bank. We had to pay in cash. Bloody nuisance,” said another Twitter user.

Shopper Leo Mackillop, 27, from south west London, told Sky News: “The queue in the local Co-op was huge. Luckily I had cash but other people had to leave the queue and till to get cash from outside. They looked really irritated.”

Shops quickly filled up as customers had issues paying with Visa cards. Credit: Leo Mackillop
Image: Shops quickly filled up as customers had issues paying with Visa cards. Credit: Leo Mackillop

Dan Heley, 30, from Luton and living in Weston-Super-Mare, posted a photo of KFC warning customers that they were unable to accept cards.

He told Sky News: “I’m not too affected as I generally carry a bit of cash, but there were cars turning around after seeing notices saying they couldn’t use their card.

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“Earlier in Morrison’s there was frustrated parents with crying kids because the mum couldn’t buy the tea for tonight, it’s totally unacceptable, I wouldn’t be surprised if Russian hackers were to blame.”

Despite reports that huge tailbacks at the Severn Bridge, which links England and Wales, were caused by the Visa problems, Highways England says a broken down car was responsible for the congestion.

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