Banks disrupted as Travelex hit by virus

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Travelex was hit by a computer virus on New Year's Eve. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Major banks have had their online money exchange services disrupted after a virus struck currency broker Travelex.

Barclays (BARC.L), First Direct, Virgin Money (VMUK.L), and Sainsbury’s Bank (SBRY.L) have all been affected by issues at Travelex, which provides behind-the-scenes foreign exchange services on each of the banks’s websites.

Travelex said Thursday in a statement on Twitter it had discovered a computer virus on New Year’s Eve that had “compromised some of its services.” The money changing giant subsequently took all its systems offline “as a precautionary measure.” Travelex’s website remained offline by Friday afternoon.

As well as providing foreign exchange services directly to customers, Travelex also provides ‘white label’ currency services to banks. They have been left unable to process foreign exchange orders on their websites.

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Barclays’ website stated it was “unable to process currency orders in branch, online, or over the phone right now.” A spokesperson for the bank declined to comment.

Telephone bank First Direct, which is owned by HSBC (HSBA.L), said on its website it was unable to process travel money orders online or over the phone due to “a service issue with third party service provider, Travelex.” A spokesperson declined to give any more details.

A spokesperson for Virgin Money confirmed that it was unable to process travel money orders as a result of the Travelex issues.

Sainsbury’s Bank has also been left unable to process online orders. A spokesperson told Yahoo Finance UK customers could still get foreign currency at Bureaux du Change within Sainsbury’s supermarkets. There are over 260 Bureaux du Change at Sainsbury’s across the country and the spokesperson said the supermarket was “in close contact with Travelex” about the online issues.

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Travelex said in its statement on Thursday that customers could still buy currency from its stores. The company apologised for the inconvenience and said it was “doing all we can to restore our full services as soon as possible.”

“We have deployed teams of IT specialists and external cyber security experts who have been working continuously since New Year’s Eve to isolate the virus and restore the affected systems,” the company said.