The card payment company Verifone experienced an outage on its machines in France and the UK on Tuesday, causing widespread disruption.
In UK shops that use the technology, including supermarkets such as Waitrose, there were reports of long queues, and several businesses took to social media to advise customers to bring cash with them.
The company’s official Twitter accounts received a barrage of complaints from people caught short with no cash and from retailers unable to take payments.
Verifone, which is one the largest providers of traditional card terminals in the world, confirmed the outage in a statement.
“Earlier today, we experienced a service outage that affected connectivity to our Wynid gateway in France, and Ocius gateway in the UK. Services are now back to normal, and both data centres are now receiving transactions.
“Our engineers are continuing their investigation to determine the root cause of the outage. We apologise for the disruption caused.”
Reading Football Club released a statement before its FA Cup match against Stevenage saying it could not take any card payments at Madejski Stadium.
“Unfortunately the technical issues are out of our control, however we would like to apologise to our fans for any inconvenience caused,” it said.
Everyman cinema also tweeted to customers: “Bring some cash money with you if you’re visiting tonight, @Verifone are having some temporary card payment issues.”
Several Twitter users complained about the lack of communication. Luke Finnigan said: “Are you down? Be helpful if you sent out a communication … Your helpdesk aren’t answering the phones.”
A taxi driver, Pete McAuliffe, also tweeted the company to complain that he would not be able to work until the problem was fixed.
“Seeing as I have to take card payments by law as a London cabbie, your system failure means I can’t work. It’d be a good idea if you waived your excessive commissions this week.”