Having problems with payments around Christmas can be frustrating, especially for those who leave gift buying till the last minute. With calmer markets this holiday season, the crypto ecosystem has been operating relatively smoothly, with few exceptions. The fiat world, however, saw some glitches that affected card payments in particular.
Complaints About Payments and ATM Issues
Users of Visa and Mastercard, the world’s leading payment processors, have complained about their cards not working right before Christmas Day. Both systems experienced outages on Dec. 24, according to data collected by Downdetector. The website monitors various services in real time and updates you whenever they are having problems or are temporarily down for some reason.
Issues with Visa in the U.S. started at around 1:14 p.m. EST this past Tuesday, the platform details, with most reports concerning payments (83%) and ATM transactions (10%). Around 6% of users had to deal with website-related issues. Reports peaked at 8:29 p.m. on the 24th (468) followed by a less pronounced spike at 10:14 p.m. (143).
Another interval of interrupted services was registered between 12:25 p.m. on Dec. 20 and 3:55 a.m. on Dec. 21, with the most down reports (163) filed at around 7:40 p.m. on Friday. Approximately 70% of the complaints this time were about payments, with the rest related to website and ATM issues.
The majority of such cases have been observed in the United States, Germany and the U.K. Visa in Russia dismissed the outage reports, stating on social media that “Visa cards work as usual. Reports of outages on the Visa payment system do not reflect the reality.” Russians, however, celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 and it’s likely that the network did not deal with the same loads.
Prepaid and Gift Cards Affected
Comments left by users under the alert tickets suggest that many customers had trouble activating their Visa prepaid or gift cards. Some were surprised to find out that according to the fine print, it takes up to 24 hours for the funds to appear on the card. In some cases, that didn’t happen at all even after more than a day of waiting and customers had to file claims with the issuers to gain access to their money.
Others had issues when trying to spend their balances through third party payment processors. One of them complained: “Using my Visa gift card to make a purchase online and pay though PayPal. It just says PayPal cannot verify the card and will not allow me to pay. It says the amount in full and the zip is registered but still nothing…”
Downdetector users with MC cards have also filed numerous reports on Dec. 24, with the highest number, 127, registered at 8:36 p.m. In 78% of the cases, customers were facing problems with card payments. Teller machine and website issues each affected 10% of the card holders that contacted the website.
The crypto world was not completely spared of problems either, despite the relatively uneventful atmosphere over the past few weeks. On Dec. 22, popular crypto payment provider Bitpay experienced a temporary outage of bitcoin core transfers. “BTC payments were briefly unavailable today between 1 and 4:25 p.m. as we worked to resolve transaction infrastructure issues. Service is restored,” the platform’s support team tweeted the following day.
The ability to process much more transactions, thousands per second, than cryptocurrency blockchains is an argument Bitcoin skeptics put forward when comparing traditional fiat-based payment systems like Visa and Mastercard with decentralized networks. But while cryptocurrencies still have a lot of ground to cover in terms of scalability, they also have some undisputable, innate advantages over bank cards. Being able to pay without interference from a third party in a peer-to-peer manner guarantees instant, unimpeded access to your money. Besides, gift cards are available for crypto enthusiasts as well.
Did you experience issues with your card payments this Christmas? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Downdetector.
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