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Canada: Internet Outage Brings Down Debit Payments

Categories : Cash and Crises, Cash does not require a technology infrastructure, Cash is a contingency and fall-back solution
July 13, 2022
Tags : Canada, Cash, Cash and Crises, Digital payments, Technology
Last Friday, an internet outage disrupted debit card payments and banking services in Canada. Shops put up “Cash Only” signs, and many retailers lost sales revenue.
Manuel A. Bautista-González

Ph.D. in U.S. History, Columbia University in the City of New York

Post-Doctoral Researcher in Global Correspondent Banking, 1870-2000 – Mexico and South America, University of Oxford

This post is also available in: Spanish

Last Friday, the Canadian telecommunications company Rogers experienced a country-wide outage that knocked out about a quarter of Canada’s internet connectivity (see Map 1). Rogers is the leading communications provider in Ontario, with more than 10 million mobile subscribers and 2.25 million internet users.

Map 1. Canada: Rogers Outage, 2022

SourceIs the Service Down Canada.

A “maintenance update in our core network caused some of our routers to malfunction early Friday morning,” said Tony Staffieri, Rogers president, and CEO. “We don’t understand how the different levels of redundancy that we build across the network coast to coast have not worked,” said Kye Prigg, Rogers’ senior vice-president of access networks and operations.

Shutdown Turned Off Debit Card Payments and Banking Services

The outage brought down Interac’s payment processing network. “A nationwide telecommunications outage […] is impacting the availability of some Interac service. Interac debit is currently unavailable online and at checkout. Interac e-transfer is also widely unavailable, impacting the ability to send and receive payments,” said Interac spokesperson Bryan Bossin.

Rogers’ network failure also disrupted other banking services.

Shops Went “Cash Only”

Shops and restaurants across Canada put up “Cash Only” or “Cash and Credit Only” signs.

The debit payments’ disruption decreased retailers’ sales dramatically:

Many retailers turned away customers or provided services for free.

“It’s Scary How Quickly Things Can Come Down.”

Some business owners had payment alternatives, while others ranted about the exorbitant fees for accepting credit cards.

“Because They Are Cash-Free, I Don’t Have Any Way of Paying.”

Customers were distraught to discover that Rogers’ outage also brought down payment systems.

Transportation and mobility users also experienced payment disruptions.

Critical Digital Infrastructure

The outage evidenced how vulnerable Canada’s digital infrastructure is, increasing the likelihood that hackers will target the country’s communication services in future cyberattacks.

In May, Germany suffered a country-wide card payments outage resulting from a software glitch affecting payment card terminals. Payment terminals in Norway went down on May 17, as Norwegians celebrated Constitution Day, causing long queues at ATMs.

This post is also available in: Spanish