Telstra has been identified as the source of an outage that knocked out payments and ATM services for Australia Post, Bendigo Bank, ING Australia, Bank Australia and Cuscal on Tuesday.
The incident, iTnews has learned, kicked off due to a process error that unintentionally cut the connection between Cuscal and eftpos leaving thousands of customers unable make transactions via CHQ or Savings accounts until mid-evening.
It is understood the glitch happened when a live service was mistaken for one that was being retired, with the live service pulled instead of the dead one.
Telstra on Tuesday was making assurances that the incident was isolated and not a network wide issue.
Telstra's network issues recently caused Cabcharge to tell its investors it lost $5 million in forgone fares after an outage.
Cuscal finally calls it
For customers trying to figure out what was going on, confirmation how far the incident extended didn't come until well into the afternoon.
“We are currently experiencing a telecommunications issue causing the loss of connectivity to the eftpos hub and ATM links for selected services," Cuscal's chief client officer Bianca Bates told iTnews in a statement.
"The impact is that some of our clients’ cardholders are not currently able to make an eftpos transaction. These cardholders can continue to transact using credit and contactless functionality," Bates said.
There is also a disruption to Australia Post services and some ATM services, Bates continued, adding that Cuscal is "working with our network provider to resolve this issue as priority.”
Later in the evening, Australia Post had its own take.
"Due to an issue impacting a number of organisations - including Australia Post – we are experiencing outages to some EFTPOS transactions, bill payments and banking services at our Post Offices. We're working with the supplier to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and apologise for the inconvenience," Post said.
But the confirmations only came after several affected institutions issued outage notices to customers on social media that their card services are down.
we did advise there is a card outage, which means cards are currently not working whether it be EFTPOS or ATM's. ^Hayley— ING Australia (@ING_Aust) June 18, 2019
The disruption also appears to be hitting Cheque and Savings account, with Bank Australia saying customers trying to get cash from ANZ, CBA, Westpac and Australia Post ATMs also impacted.
We have been advised that customers attempting to withdraw cash from ANZ, CBA, Westpac or Australia Post outlets may be experiencing issues. Other banks' ATMs are not affected. We will keep you updated.— Bank Australia (@bankaust) June 18, 2019
The latest glitch comes as the Reserve Bank of Australia continues its push for better transparency on payment system outages and their impact on merchants and consumers.
In particular the RBA is demanding a standardised set of outage definitions by which it can hold banks and payment systems providers to account.
In November 2018 RBA Governor, Philip Lowe, issued a strong warning that if Australia’s big banks and credit card schemes did not address ongoing technology outages and upgrade lethargy, the central bank would intervene through regulation.
“We all need to do better here. As we rely less on cash, outages affecting retail transactions can have a significant impact on businesses and individuals. So continued effort needs to be made by all participants in the payments system to reduce operational problems. If this does not happen, then it is possible that the Payments System Board could consider setting some standards.”