July 13, 2022

How Canada’s Rogers Outage Affected Payments

On 8 July, Rogers experienced a nationwide outage that halted payments in Canada. International payments networks can provide an alternative.

On Friday, 8 July, the Canadian telecommunications provider Rogers experienced a nationwide outage that lasted for more than fifteen hours.

Though Rogers primarily provides phone, internet, and TV services, the issue extended to other areas. Most notably, it had a widespread impact on the payments industry.

Banks and Debit Cards Were Affected By the Outage

Various Canadian banks were affected by the incident including Royal Bank of Canada, CIBC, TD Canada, Bank of Montreal, Vancity, Meridian, and Tangerine. Many ATMs and ABMs (automatic banking machines) went out of service during the incident as well.

Additionally, the Canadian interbank network Interac went offline almost entirely. This outage meant that most retail stores were unable to accept payments via debit card. Interac e-transfers were also interrupted by the outage. Both issues spanned the entire country.

The outage affected one-quarter of Canada’s observable connectivity, according to the U.K.-based cybersecurity research firm NetBlocks.

Interac now says that it is adding a secondary backup provider to ensure that payments are possible if Rogers experiences another outage in the future.

Some companies that were entirely unable to handle electronic payments turned to cash. Michelle Wasylyshen, a national spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada, said that “cash was most certainly king at most stores” on the day of the outage. 

Alongside cash, pre-paid cards, and credit cards largely remained in service during the outage. Therefore, given that many people were not only unaccustomed to carrying cash but also unable to withdraw cash from bank machines, credit or pre-paid cards became the default payment type.

After the incident concluded, Rogers revealed that the outage was caused by an early-morning maintenance update that caused its routers to malfunction.

A similar incident happened in early 2021 when Rogers carried out an upgrade. That event also affected Interac and other payment systems.

Processing Payments During Future Outages

International payment networks provide an alternative way for customers to perform transactions when domestic networks fail. Though global payments networks including Visa and Mastercard occasionally experience issues, these outages rarely, if ever, last for such prolonged periods of time because they generally rely on more robust infrastructure and maintenance teams than nationwide payments networks. 

Therefore, Payset’s dedicated virtual IBAN accounts and pre-paid cards make a good failsafe against future outages. Contact us to request more information or to open an account.

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