A recent Visa crash forces millions of customers to pay for essentials like food and fuel off the financial grid. The Visa payment system in Europe and the United Kingdom crashed without explanation on Friday, June 1, 2018.
Customers were unable to buy food at supermarkets, gas at filling stations, and tickets at train and subway stations, The Guardian reported. Abandoned shopping carts and a cash only sign were reported at one British supermarket.
“I’ve only got two cards and they’re both Visa,” Lisa Eagleton Muir said on a trip to London. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. It is a long journey home with no food.”
Disturbingly the Visa cards worked at some places but not at others. Muir was able to get cash from an ATM with her PIN but not able to buy groceries. The British supermarket chain ASDA reported that some Visa payments were going through, but others were not.
Some Visa bank transactions did not work, The Guardian reported. The Visa network was down in Europe for about five hours.
Stay Calm Visa is down
“Stay calm,” Spain’s national police force the Guardia Civil tweeted. “If you can’t pay it’s not because you’ve been robbed or hacked. Visa is suffering a service crash in Europe that’s stopping payments going through in its cards.”
Everybody should be concerned about the European Visa crash because Visa operates the world’s largest payment system. In fact, Visa also utilizes some of the most advanced and sophisticated payment technology.
Visa gave no explanation beyond a vague statement about a hardware failure. A “Visa crash” press release stated the crash was not caused by “unauthorized access or malicious event.”
How to Survive Payment System Failures in a Cashless World
The Visa crash is a good reminder that all of us need to be prepared for the possibility of payment failures in a cashless world. New payment solutions make life easier and more convenient, but they have severe limitations.
Survival tips for the cashless world include:
• Make sure that you have a supply of paper cash available.
• Keep that cash secret, do not tell anybody about it, do not flash it, and keep it hidden.
• Limit the amount of paper cash you keep to a few hundred dollars because cash is vulnerable to inflation and demonetization. Our government can imitate the actions of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi; who went on national TV and declared most of the nation’s banknotes worthless on November 8, 2016, at any time.
• Keep part of your money in alternative assets such as gold, silver, or cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. These are less vulnerable to government actions than paper cash.
• Avoid the habit of carrying paper cash and paying with it in non-emergency situations. The very last thing (for obvious reasons) you want to do is let local criminals know you have paper cash. They might come and visit you in an emergency.
• Watch financial news outlets carefully, and monitor developments in foreign countries like the UK, India, and China. Changes to the financial systems in those nations will be coming to America in the future. The American news media often ignore important events such as the Visa outage in Europe.
• Make sure that you have credit or debit cards from all the major brands; Visa, Discover, American Express, and MasterCard. The Guardian reported that MasterCard and American Express were working just fine while Visa was down.
• Have both debit and credit cards in your wallet. Visa debit cards were still working at ATMs in the United Kingdom during the outage.
• Install payment apps on your phone. Apps like Walmart Pay, Apple Pay, and Google Pay (formerly Android Pay) work directly off of credit card or bank balances and might not be affected. An advantage with such apps is that they will work with several different sources of payment. Apple Pay can be supported by several credit card balances and a bank account.
• Use more than one payment app because many major retailers; including Walmart, Home Depot, and the Kroger supermarkets, will not accept Apple Pay or Google Pay. Walmart will accept its Walmart Pay app which is available through the App Store and Google Play.
• Avoid using paper checks because they can lead to big bank fees. The average U.S. bank now charges an overdraft fee of $35, Nerd Wallet reported.
• Maintain stockpiles of essential items like food, ammunition, fuel, medicine, spare parts, fertilizer, water, drinks, etc. so you can survive without cash for several weeks or months.
• Learn how to barter. Understanding how to barter, and how a barter economy works can help you survive in a crisis.
• Have stockpiles of items you can barter available. Potential barter goods include:
food, eggs, fresh meat, fish, fishing tackle, seeds, canned food, frozen food, ammunition, snack food, condoms, cigarettes, candy, alcohol, fuel, books, magazines, batteries, firewood, propane, bottled water, spare parts, medicines, screws, and nails.
• Develop Off-Grid sources of essentials like food, heat, water, and electricity. The best way to survive grid failures is not to be reliant on the grid.
Understanding that the grid can go down at any time is an important key to survival. Conveniences like Visa can shut down at any time, disrupt your life or worse. The recent Visa crash, once again is a warning… for those with ears to hear. Stay vigilant.
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