IT outages left seven million Britons unable to use cards last year

The survey from Which? calls into question the reliability of digital payments as cash becomes harder to access


An IT or technical system crash has led to more than seven million people in the UK being unable to use their debit or credit card, research from consumer choice firm Which? has found.

The survey, which encompassed more than 2,000 people, found that one in seven respondents had, in the last year, been left unable to use their card because of an outage, with 49% of this number reporting that this meant they could not pay at the point of sale. Of the number surveyed, one in 20 had experienced the problem more than once over the year.

Many in the study had suffered a financial penalty as a result, with 11% reporting this outcome, while 9% reported that their credit score was damaged because of a missed bill of payment.

More than one in five of respondents told Which? that they keep more cash on them as a result of the outage they experienced.

"Digital payments have enhanced many people's lives – but many still rely on cash and all of us risk being shut out of paying for goods and services when technology lets us down," remarked Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?

"Meanwhile, people across the UK risk being stripped of their ability to access cash through the double blow of widespread bank branch and cashpoint closures," he added.

A recent report from Which? discovered that two-thirds of the UK's bank branches had been closed in the last 30 years, with more than 60 branches shutting up shop every month. The added 220 free-to-use cash machines that were closed every month in 2018 has also made it more difficult for consumers to access cash when needed.

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