A technical problem caused the credit card payment system in Israel to fail on Thursday morning for five hours, with hundreds of companies and stores reporting that they were unable to accept credit payments, and tens of thousands of Israelis affected.
The problem was apparently the result of an error sent in a daily update from SHVA — the automated banking service that provides communication and computer systems for many of the credit card and banking services in Israel — which set the dollar exchange rate to zero.
Initially, fears were that hackers had disabled computer systems, and Israel’s Shin Bet security service was called in to investigate, but quickly established that there was no foul play.
Terminals at outlets that accept foreign currency payments were stumped by the value, causing the system to crash and prevent transactions from being updated with credit card companies.
The worst hit by the bug were gas stations and some of the country’s larger supermarket and retail chains, including Mega, Rami Levi, and Home Center.
The error reportedly originated in foreign currency information sent to SHVA from the Bank of Israel.
Once the source of the error was identified it took technicians a couple of hours to correct the problem; normal services were reestablished by early afternoon.