Japanese bank botched data migration so hard, its cash machines turned into card-eating monsters

Japan’s Mizuho Bank has apologised after data migration work turned its ATMs into card-eating monsters, prevented customers from withdrawing their cash and crippled online banking.

“The system malfunction that occurred on Sunday morning, February 28, was found to be caused by a failure in the data migration work for time deposit transactions,” reads the bank’s apology.

Whatever caused the failure appears to have been pushed into production and led to the bank’s cash machines “eating” customers’ cards. Tweets like the ones embedded below describe the ensuing chaos.

Mizuho Bank operates more than 5,000 ATMS, around 80 percent of which were offline on Monday. Internet banking was also unavailable for a time.

Service was restored to most of the machines by Monday afternoon.


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The breakdown has left the bank with egg on its face and the task of returning an unknown number of customers’ cards and passbooks. Yes, passbooks: Japanese banks still offer passbooks and ATMs can use them alongside cards.

Lest you think Japan’s cash machines never escaped the 1970s, some equipment can use the veins in the finger or palm as a biometric identifier.

Mizuho Bank’s president apologized for the IT kerfuffle, and the bank says it will work with customers to refund any fees they incurred due to the incident. The Financial Services Agency, Japan’s banking sector regulator, has asked for an explanation. ®

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