Seemingly always-working popular institutions are taken for granted as exactly that: always working. Until they don’t, that is. A prime “back to reality” example comes to us out of Europe today, June 1st, as a Visa card network outage has left Visa customers there temporarily downstream without a paddle. The episode highlights why Bitcoin may become a foil for the financial powers-that-be in the years ahead.
Visa Temporarily Went Down in Parts of Europe
Bitcoin still has much to do before scaling to Visa’s throughput levels, but the original cryptocurrency’s network can boast of never having “gone down” like what we’re acutely seeing out of Europe today with Visa’s card network.
As The Guardian reports, Visa transactions have been failing in both the United Kingdom and the European mainland this morning. The global payments titans confirmed to the outlet that they were experiencing a temporary system outage, though the breadth of the crash isn’t yet fully known.
Not to be the skunk at the garden party, but it is worth noting in the West, where bitcoin use is often seen by mainstream audiences as unnecessary compared to services like PayPal and Visa, that these services have their own centralized chokepoints that make them fallible in ways that Bitcoin isn’t.
Indeed, Bitcoin couldn’t ever have a localized outage. It’s either all or nothing. And its up-time is 99.99 percent since January 3rd, 2009, thanks to its unique PoW-based mining model.
As Satoshi Nakamoto once said, “I became convinced there was a way to do this without any trust required at all” — a la the creation of Bitcoin. And so now there is an alternative to the status quo, e.g. Visa, where no trust is needed and 24/7 up-time is all but guaranteed.
Send money to whomever you need to, whenever, without permission or facilitation from a trusted third party financial service — that’s the bitcoin way.
Outages, Woes in Vogue Lately
Another recent incident last week saw National Australia Bank (NAB) hit by a temporary but comprehensive outage, “leaving customers unable to access banking services or withdraw money” per Reuters.
For now, NAB hasn’t revealed the cause of the crash. It’s another painful reminder that banks aren’t “always working” as many in the mainstream assume.
Also, in India, hundreds of thousands of employees in the nation’s banking sector have gone on strike, causing 85,000 banks to temporarily shutter and large transactions to be impossible to facilitate.
Now, with the dawn of cryptocurrencies, it’s simply becoming harder and harder for a growing demographic of users to ignore the pitfalls of the traditional banking sector. Especially when it seems so poised for disruption by cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
What’s your take? Has bitcoin provided a foil for Visa today, or is the matter not so black and white? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Images PYMNTS, Fortune
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