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Online Trends

Published June 7th 2018

How The Visa Outage Gave Bitcoin Fans a Chance to Pounce

The Europe-wide Visa outage saw plenty of complaints on social. Some took this as a prime opportunity to slam the company.

On Friday a large number of consumers in Europe experienced a Visa outage that left them unable to make purchases.

I was in the pub when I discovered this and the thought of having to leave and take out cash to pay for my Friday vino was highly distressing to say the least.

Of course, I’m sure there were some people who had a worse time than I did, perhaps while in the middle of paying for other necessities like food and tickets to Deadpool 2.

The Brandwatch React team wondered what a Europe-wide Visa outage might look like on social – especially when people didn’t necessarily know that their card being declined was part of a large outage as opposed to their accounts being drained.

Tracking the confusion

To start with, we looked at @mentions of Visa alongside mentions of “card not working” (and variations). Both saw a sizeable spike on Friday.

We also noticed that mentions of banks were affected, with spikes in mentions on the day of the outage.

Confused customers were directing questions about their cards being declined to their own bank despite the problem being with Visa.

Considering the confusion, it’s good for banks to get on top of any industry wide errors quickly and communicate what’s happening to customers. One way to be alerted early to these problems would be to set up alerts for increases in social mentions of cards being declined or other potential problems consumers might encounter where the cause is not clear.

In this case, it wasn’t just consumers who were frustrated by the slow down. People working at in-person points of sale were not happy at all about the outage.

In the pub where I was scrabbling for cash to pay for my rosé, the first the bar tenders had heard of the Visa outage – despite having multiple cards declined – was when I presented them with a BBC News article about what was going on. Perhaps a more robust communications system to notify those working on the front line of sales could work well to ensure both merchants and customers know what’s happening when things go wrong with their transactions to ensure there isn’t a mass panic.

When I first saw the news I took out £50 in cash out and told all my friends we were on the brink of financial collapse. I may have overreacted.

Bitcoin lovers had their moment

Social negativity directed at Visa for the temporary outage wasn’t just coming from card holders.

Bitcoin proponents were keen to make their voices heard, and this tweet did particularly well.

I have no stats on what percentage of time Visa’s payment system has been functional for to counter this with, but the pro-bitcoin sass was obviously appreciated on social.

Meanwhile, while “@Noohoo”‘s point wasn’t necessarily bitcoin related, he did make an interesting comment on the issue.

The dominance of Visa was made even more obvious by the uproar that occurred when there was an outage.

What can be learned from Twitter conversations around the Visa outage?

Here are three things we learned from our speedy research into the issue:

  1. People are not afraid to post about issues they’re having with banking on Twitter, whether it’s complaining about their card getting declined or pointedly asking for action from organizations. This ties in with research we’ve done before around the financial services sector which is one of the most negatively discussed industries online.
  2. When things go wrong people will go to their bank for help, even if the problem isn’t their fault. Banks can catch problems and set up appropriate communications early by being alerted to issues being reported on social.
  3. Bitcoin lovers are successfully taking up opportunities to make digs at traditional financial systems. Organizations within those systems should be prepared to deal with these attacks, whether it be honing counter arguments to supply to journalists inquiring about the crypto currency or proactively setting up campaigns that address them.

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? We have plenty more. Email react@brandwatch.com for more information.

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