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Merchant payment system offline for 90 minutes, causes delays for B.C. Ferries

B.C. Ferries employees had to manually process all credit card and debit card payments.
Traffic webcams showed a long line of traffic outside the Swartz Bay terminal on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. VIA B.C. FERRIES

Passengers travelling with B.C. Ferries on Saturday morning faced delays due to a fleetwide payment system disruption that forced employees to manually process all credit card and debit card payments. The problem also affected thousands of other businesses.

The issue — a problem with third-party operator Moneris — was first reported by B.C. Ferries around 9:45 a.m. and resolved by 11:20 a.m., said B.C. Ferries spokesperson Karen Johnston.

Check-in at terminals and payments on board vessels were delayed as a result of the issues.

B.C. Ferries said systems were slowly coming back online with intermittent issues.

Moneris said in a statement on social media that the payment processing company had “resolved a network outage,” though merchants using the payment system may experience transaction slowness.

Traffic webcams showed a long line of cars outside the Swartz Bay terminal Saturday morning, and Queen of New Westminster’s 10 a.m. sailing from Swartz Bay departed for Tsawwassen 34 minutes late, according to the B.C. Ferries website. Other terminals seemed to fare better, with little traffic buildup.

On Wednesday night, point-of-sale machines malfunctioned on the Spirit of Vancouver Island while it was travelling from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen. Customers at the time were treated to free beverages.

Toronto-based Moneris issued a statement saying there was nothing to suggest the outage was related to a cyber attack.

Complaints about outages started rolling in to the website before 9 a.m. Pacific time, but Moneris did not say when the outage started.

About three hours later, Moneris posted a message on social media site X saying it had resolved the network problem.

It remains unclear how many businesses and transactions were affected, but data provided by indicated complaints had come in from across the country.

In a statement provided to The Canadian Press, the company said the outage lasted about 90 minutes.

“We have resolved the network outage and returned transaction processing to normal,” the statement said. “We continue to investigate the root cause of the issue. There are no indications this appears to be cyber-attack related and all transaction systems are functioning normally again.”

The company, a joint venture between Royal Bank and BMO Bank of Montreal, said transaction processing could be slow as its systems catch up with the backlog.

Moneris says it supports about 325,000 merchant locations across Canada.

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