Updated at 4pm to include comments from an HSBC spokesperson who says that all systems have been restored.
Thousands of HSBC customers in Qatar found themselves unable to use their debit cards to pay for purchases or withdraw money from ATMs for several hours on Saturday afternoon, as a “technical problem” hit the bank’s electronic network.
Greta Madgwick, a spokeswoman for HSBC in Qatar, told Doha News in a text message that the problem extended across the Middle East:
“HSBC is aware of a system error that impacted HSBC debit card transactions in MENA today. All systems have been fully restored. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.”
She added that HSBC would undertake “a full review of potentially impacted transactions” and that any customer whose account was improperly debited should contact the bank.
Madgwick said an investigation is still in progress to identify the cause of the network failure.
HSBC customers in other Middle East countries have also been complaining on Twitter that their cards were not working:
#hsbc network down in the #UAE . Not accepting card transactions . customer service confirmed service will be restored in an hour
— Anindita Chatterjee (@Awe_nindita) December 7, 2013
The #HSBC network is down in #Bahrain. This is unacceptable. Get it fixed ASAP.
— Troy Sullivan (@troysullivan) December 7, 2013
When reached by phone, the head of Qatar Central Bank’s payment systems department said he wasn’t aware of the problem and suggested it was an issue with the individual bank’s network.
Customers in Qatar who reported problems on Twitter said they could still access their account information online, but expressed frustration about being unable to pay for their purchases at check-out counters:
@dohanews few angry HSCB customers in Carrefour before trying to make card payments and being declined ..myself included
— Graham G Davis (@kopite321) December 7, 2013
Have you been affected by the outage? Thoughts?