Bank of England orders Visa to hire PwC after IT error

18 March 2019 2 min. read
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Multinational financial services corporation Visa has been instructed to hire consultants to help complete the recommendations of an independent review, following an IT outage that caused chaos in 2018. The Bank of England has ordered Visa to appoint PwC to help assess Visa Europe’s progress in its implementation of Threadneedle Street’s recommendations.

In June 2018, Visa’s payment system was struck down by a hardware failure, impacting millions of customers across the UK and the rest of Europe. People were left unable to pay for goods and services across the continent, while the outage was not associated with any unauthorised access or cyber-attack.

At the time, the Bank of England immediately contacted Visa to find out when the system would be back up and running. The unprecedented crash eventually led to Threadneedle Street implementing an extended investigation into the IT systems of financial companies. Ultimately, in response to a jump in frequency and severity of the incidents, the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee put together a new framework around resilience and risk, setting minimum service levels to keep the economy ticking in the event of a plausible disruption.

Bank of England orders Visa to hire PwC after IT error

Now, the central bank of the UK said that it will use statutory powers to direct Visa to fully implement its recommendation of an independent review, which found that it was unprepared for the failure and failed to communicate effectively with those impacted. Part of this includes requiring Visa to appoint PwC to “assess Visa Europe’s progress in implementing these recommendations”. PwC will provide a final report to the Bank later this year assessing the progress in the implementation of each recommendation.

The Bank of England said the incident had the potential to affect confidence in the financial system; however, it also acknowledged that Visa has accepted all of the requirements, and appears committed to implementing them. Visa has previously stated that the issue was caused by a “very rare partial failure” of a switch in one of its data centres, meaning back-up centres could not automatically process all transactions. It has since fixed the issue, while arguing it was taking “all necessary steps” to prevent the failure from happening again.

The action taken by the Bank of England does not imply a breach of a regulatory requirement, or constitute an enforcement action. The reforms it has backed to be carried out were initially devised by PwC’s fellow Big Four member EY.