The world’s biggest payments processor is down, bringing chaos across Europe as individuals suddenly find themselves unable to pay for train tickets, food shopping, or indeed much of anything.
The story has just broken out, with payments beginning to fail at around 3PM London time. Therefore it is unknown what exactly is causing the failure or when it may be resolved, but shops and service providers across Britain are now opening cash only check-outs.
“We are currently experiencing a service disruption which is preventing some Visa transactions in Europe from being processed. We are investigating the cause and working as quickly as possible to resolve the situation. We will keep you updated,” Visa said an hour ago (5PM London time).
“I had £240 worth of stuff in my trolley. My card just wouldn’t go through. I tried and again and then I tried with another card but it still wouldn’t go through,” a shopper tells the BBC.
Bank of Ireland, among many other banks, said: “We are aware some customers are experiencing Visa debit card issues. This is impacting multiple banks across Europe.”
“Thanks for leaving me stranded at a train station!!! #visadown,” a clearly unhappy Visa user says. Another one is in even more trouble, she says:
“On holiday in Sicily. Car hire has messed up and #visadown means card declined for trains. We owe our hosts €350 and need to get to Palermo from Taormina for flights. Can you help please??”
Their stories are repeated across Europe as probably millions of transactions fail, with the cause, the steps taken to prevent it, and the potential solutions to ensure it does not happen again now probably being a subject of investigation.
This may well be just a technical failure, but it may also be way more serious. Visa is centralized, access to one key service might be sufficient to bring the entire country on its knees. Such attack would probably need state level sophistication, but of course it could be just a far too bored smart kid.
Ethereum, in contrast, and other public blockchains like bitcoin, can claim to have a 100% uptime. There may be congestion in times when you need to pay a higher fee, but the network, especially for ethereum, has never been inoperational, even for a few seconds.
Their decentralized nature means they lack a central point of attack that can bring the whole thing down, so leading to ever growing interest in public and private blockchains, with this crash at Visa so potentially standing as a prime example to show why decentralization may be far better than a single point of failure which can bring whole nations down.