PayPal glitch over security checks


Paypal logoDennis Van Tine/ABACA USA/Empics Entertainment

Paypal, the online payments company, has admitted that it is facing "technical issues" which has led to many more payments being held for security checks, causing delays to payments. Ironically the problem emerged as the company tried to introduce a system of faster payments.

So what does it mean for customers?

The glitch

PayPal, which is owned by eBay, had pledged to speed up the process of transferring money from PayPal accounts to users' normal bank accounts. Previously it had taken up to three working days - and it was changing the system so that transfers could be done in a few hours.

It introduced changes to the system to make this possible, and because of the volume of transactions it was suddenly trying to get through, the glitch emerged. PayPal always refers some payments for security checks - as the regulations require it. However, it started referring an unusually large number.

Users were informed that their funds would not be available for 21 hours while they were checked out - and that after this time it would take another two hours for the cash to be in their account.

In a statement PayPal said: "We have recently experienced technical issues that have resulted in more transactions than usual being reviewed. Although most withdrawals are not subject to review, a minority of customers have been told it may take up to 24 hours for us to review the transaction."

What it means

The good news for those affected is that Paypal has said that problems should be addressed by 'the end of the week'. We can only hope they were referring to the end of today. At that stage, things should run as normal again.

However, it is yet another reminder that so much of our finances are based on computer systems that can and do go wrong. The horrors of June's NatWest glitch left many people feeling vulnerable, and July's technical problems from Nationwide showed that IT nightmares are not just restricted to one financial organisation.

In an age where all financial institutions are reliant on technology, there's no way to avoid it. Our only option is to create our own safety nets. We need to make sure that if there is a problem with one area of our finances, we have somewhere else to turn.

This means we cannot afford to have our current accounts running to the final pennies each month - and we need a few days' buffer in case of problems. Likewise it's worth having funds in another account, in case there are widespread problems with our usual one.

The notion of putting emergency cash under the mattress is one that will just turn your home into a burglar's paradise - but in a world where things can and do go wrong, it's worth having a more secure alternative.

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