It’s Not Y2K, But 2010 That Hit German Credit Cards

Remember the hysteria that surrounded the year 2000? Many believed it would bring about the end of the world! People were pitching their survival products. Some were saying gold coins were the only solution post-Y2K (sounds like today, huh?). But then when the clock finally struck midnight on December 31st that year, nothing happened!

The world did great job preventing that, but apparently, there are some folks in Germany that overlooked a similar glitch for the year 2010. On New Years, 20 million of their debit cards and 3.5 million of their credit cards stopped working. Some estimates even place that number high, at more 30 million affected cards… that’s about 1 in 4 bank cards in Germany.

This was the result of an error in the code, which supposedly made it impossible for the cards’ microchips to process the year 2010. (Meanwhile, it should be noted that most debit and credit cards in the US don’t use microchips. And when they do have one, it’s used for things like contact-less payment. If the chip was broken, the transactions can still be processed by swiping the card.)

So who’s responsible? Blame it on the French. The French company, Gemalto, which manufactured the affected chips takes full responsibility for the problem. They’re working around the clock to try and figure out a solution which doesn’t involve replacing the affected cards.

As a result, some estimates say the economic damage is in excess of $300 billion Euros (or about 430 billion in U.S. dollars). Way to go Gemalto!

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This is very scary indeed. I would like to know HOW this can happen today – especially in an industry that is supposed to focus so much an security….

This is scary.

If this happened here I would be in big trouble. I never use cash.