Japan's Mizuho halts service at card-eating ATMs

Kevin Buckland and Takashi Umekawa
·1 min read
FILE PHOTO: Mizuho Bank's signboard is pictured in Tokyo

By Kevin Buckland and Takashi Umekawa

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Mizuho Bank stopped service at some of its automated teller machines (ATMs) on Sunday after the machines devoured customers' cash cards and bank books.

The core banking unit of Mizuho Financial Group announced the halt on its website in red letters, switching from the standard black used for previous updates of the problem.

"Due to a system failure, ATM service has been halted at some of our branches," said Japan's third-largest lender by assets, with a history of system woes stretching more than a decade.

"For customers whose cash cards, bank books, etc. have been taken, we will notify you and return the items at a later date."

An ATM outage is particularly painful in cash-loving Japan, where electronic money has only recently made inroads.

The bank told customers to withdraw money from convenience store ATMs instead, saying it would reimburse the fees.

There was no prospect for immediate restoration of service, a spokeswoman told Reuters by telephone. Earlier, she had said ATMs in the capital, Tokyo, were among those affected.

The black eye for the retail bank comes after a complete overhaul of the business in 2019, with 55-year-old Masahiko Kato appointed to take the reins from the new fiscal year beginning in April.

In 2005, Mizuho had a costly "fat finger" keyboard error at its securities arm and suffered a similar breakdown at ATMs after the devastating earthquake of 2011, unlike its rivals.

(Reporting by Kevin Buckland and Takashi Umekawa; Editing by William Mallard and Clarence Fernandez)