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Bank of England orders outside assessment of Visa’s outage response

The Bank of England is requiring Visa to appoint PwC as an independent third party to review the card brand’s progress in implementing recommendations that followed a 2018 outage in Europe.

The Bank of England based its decision on the size of the incident, saying its ruling does not imply Visa has broken any rules.

The Bank of England in London.

Bloomberg News

“The incident resulted in widespread disruption to users of Visa Europe’s services and had the potential to affect confidence in the financial system. In light of this, and the importance of ensuring implementation of the remediation actions, the Bank has decided to use its statutory powers to direct Visa Europe to fully implement the recommendations of the independent review,” said the Bank of England in a release.

Visa’s European outage in June 2018 lasted for about 10 hours, affecting 1.7 million cards out of 16 million used, with a failure rate of about 9 percent. The incident stranded travelers and created long lines at supermarkets as consumers and stores scrambled to figure out how to pay in the absence of Visa.

A political storm followed, including a letter from MP Nicky Morgan pressuring Visa to disclose more information about the outage. Visa eventually blamed the incident on legacy technology that it was already phasing out.

Another government query followed, this one from the Bank of England and regulators, which produced recommendations for further remediation. Friday’s announcement adds the requirement of a third party review.

PwC is expected to issue a report later this year.

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