Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Several bank cards in the UAE failed on Saturday leaving consumers unable to withdraw money from ATMs (automatic teller machines) or make over-the-counter payments in stores.

Several banks are believed to have been impacted, according to Network International. The payment solutions provider said a “slowdown in the connectivity grid” was the cause of the problem.

Khalid Majed, an Emirates NBD customer, told Gulf News that he was unable to withdraw cash from four ATMs in Sharjah on Saturday, including two Emirates NBD machines.

However, Majed later received a text message notification stating that the money had been debited to his account.

In a statement on Twitter on Saturday following customer queries, Emirates NBD said there had been a “technical issue”. On Sunday, the bank issued a statement to Gulf News confirming the “outage”.

“The impacted transactions have been reversed almost automatically in most cases. We are finalising the reversal for the remaining accounts at the earliest ... We would like to assure all customers that their money is secure with the bank and no customer will face any losses as a result of this incident,” Emirates NBD stated.

Majed, who had a substantial amount debited from his account, said on Sunday that only an earlier, lesser amount had been deposited back.

He said Emirates NBD had advised him to visit a branch and fill in a dispute form, but it could up take up to seven days for the amount to be returned.

Sheila, another Emirates NBD customer, told Gulf News that she first noticed the problem at 8.30pm on Saturday at Dubai International Airport Terminal 1 when she tried to make a withdrawal from a non-Emirates NBD ATM. After the transaction was rejected, she tried an Emirates NBD ATM, but it also rejected her transaction. A third attempt at 10.30am was successful, but Sheila did not receive a text message notification about the earlier failed withdrawals. Later, when she checked the balance in her bank account, the failed withdrawal amounts had been debited.

Adnan, a social media executive and an Emirates Islamic Bank customer, told Gulf News he had a similar problem.

“I was shopping in Bur Dubai [on Saturday] and I swiped by card, but the transaction was rejected with a ‘do not honour’ message.”

Adnan later received a text message notification that a purchase had been made, but his account had not been debited when he checked online on Sunday.

Emirates Islamic Bank is a subsidiary of the Emirates NBD Group.

A spokesperson for mashreq told Gulf News that there was no issue with its ATMs or Point of Sale (PoS) machines on Saturday.

PoS machines are used in stores to process card payments.

The spokesperson said the issue was with an external bank, which meant that customers were unable to make card payments in stores.

A spokesperson for the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) told Gulf News that its customers had not been impacted.

On Sunday, Emirates NBD customers took to Twitter to complain about larger than usual queues at branches and problems with online payments. At least one user tweeted on Sunday that they were unable make payments or withdrawals with their Emirates NBD debit card.