More than five million payment transactions throughout Europe failed during 10-hour of technical snag that crippled Visa’s payment processing network on 1 June this year, the company informed the UK’s Treasury Select Committee.
The network outage, which started at 14.35 hours on 1 June and lasted till 00.45 hours the next day, affected nearly 1.7 million credit and debit cards and 2.4 million transactions failed to process properly in the UK.
Accepting the full responsibility of the incident, Visa said that a component in its primary data centre in the UK suffered a very rare partial failure, which prevented the backup switch at the secondary data centre from activating.
In the meantime, malfunctioning system at the primary data centre continued to try to synchronise messages with the secondary site which created a backlog of messages at the secondary data centre. This process slowed down that site’s ability to process incoming transactions.
Visa Europe CEO Charlotte Hogg assured the customers that money will not be debited from their accounts for unsuccessful transactions. He further said that the company is working with banks to resolve complaints and provide appropriate compensation.
Hogg added: “Our strategic approach for preventing this issue from happening again is migrating our European processing onto our global processing system called VisaNet. This migration is planned to be completed by year-end.
“VisaNet is more resilient in its ability to detect and recover from partial malfunctions of the type that impacted our European system on 1 June. It can isolate and remove a failing component with one command, taking mere minutes to remove the malfunctioning component from the processing environment.”
In response to Hogg’s letter, Chair of the Treasury Committee Nicky Morgan said: “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.
“The Committee expects to see the findings of the independent review, which will examine the lessons to be learned from the incident, in full.”