Sunday 5 March 2017 5:48 pm

More than half a dozen fintech firms hit by outage

More than half a dozen fintech startups were knocked offline on Sunday by issues with the card processing firm they use, leaving customers unable to make card payments.

Digital challenger bank Monzo and Revolut, which offers real-time interbank rate exchange when travelling abroad as well as a full bank account, alerted customers early on Sunday that they were having issues with its supplier “running an unexpected large migration".

Both firms have promised to reimburse customers with any foreign exchange costs incurred. Also affected were digital challenger Starling Bank, Loot, Curve, Pockit and Uaccount. All have apologised to customers. 

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“It’s disappointing for us,” Monzo chief executive Tom Blomfield told City A.M.. But, he said the bank will move processing in-house as part of its plans to become a so-called “full-stack” bank ready to launch a current account to customers in the coming months.

“We’ve just finished a 12-month project to connect our systems directly to MasterCard. When we launch the current account later this year, it will not use a third-party card processor and instead transactions will be processed entirely on our own technology,” said Monzo head of engineering Oliver Beattie in a blog post.

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“We see ourselves as a technology company as much as a bank, and going forward our strategy is to bring all critical systems in-house and continue to develop our own platform atop modern technology which we control.”

In its most recent update to customers, the bank said card payments had started working again but topups, payments to other users and were still not functioning.

The outage demonstrates the risk of outsourcing some banking processes. The card processing firm, which has not been named, connects the startups with the card issuer such as Mastercard or Visa.

Despite the annoyance aired by many customers on Twitter, some congratulated Monzo on their efforts to keep them updated. “Definitely handling this better than Natwest” said one, while another said: "Thanks for the info, you're the first bank I've used that give a push notification when stuff isn't working. Thumbs up".