June 21, 2018
A letter from Visa to a committee of British Parliament on Tuesday revealed additional details of the outage experienced across Europe by the card network on June 1. Many European Visa cardholders were unable to make payments using their cards for 10 hours. The company told British lawmakers that the outage prevented 5.2 million transactions out of the more than 51 million initiated during that time. The company blamed a “partial failure” of a switch at its primary data center that prevented a backup switch from activating.
“As a result,” according to the letter from Charlotte Hogg, CEO of Visa Europe, “it took far longer than it normally would to isolate the system at the primary data center; in the interim, the malfunctioning system at the primary data center continued to try to synchronize messages with the secondary site. This created a backlog of messages at the secondary data center, which, in turn, slowed down that site’s ability to process incoming transactions.”
In the letter to the chair of the Treasury Committee of the House of Commons, Hogg said Visa continues to work with acquiring banks to understand how the outage affected merchants and if any compensation will be forthcoming.