by

Blacked Out Currency.

On Thursday Anniken left for New York with two friends, leaving me home alone. Although she will only be away for a little over a week, I have to be totally honest and say that miss her already. But on the bright side it enables me to sit in the living room, eat chips with dip, drink my preferred brand of cheap I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Coca-Cola and watch the World Snooker Championship final. Snooker ain’t exactly Anniken’s favorite past time activity and half an hour of snooker on the idiot box usually means that we’ll have to watch two hours of recorded Say Yes to the Dress afterwards. Oh, I kid, I kid. But there’s considerably more Say Yes to the Dress than snooker on our TV, to put it that way.

Since Anniken is in the US, I decided to take advantage of the good exchange rate on USD and buy that GoPro camera I’ve been drooling over for ages. By sending the order to Anniken’s hotel, she can bring it with her. No need to pay import taxes: 25% saved. I’m also getting a bluetooth heart rate monitor to use with Endomondo and my Android phone. But what happens when I try to order everything through Amazon? My credit card is denied. Weird, because I’m pretty sure it worked just last week. Entering all the credit card information again doesn’t solve the problem, and in the end I decide to cancel the order. The heart rate monitor is sent from another store than Amazon and they’ve also got the information about my rejected credit card, so that order had to be canceled as well. There is no automatic cancellation on that order – a cancel request is be sent by e-mail from Amazon’s web site. Orders sent from Amazon can be canceled directly from the Amazon web site, but unfortunately, they had already started preparing the order and the website reports that they can’t guarantee that it will be canceled. So is my order canceled? Or is it not? Hard to tell. Pretty damn inconvenient.

After a bit of investigating, I realized that my credit card was not the problem, the cause laid with Evry, which is responsible for handling banking services for a number of Norwegian banks. Evry had gone tits up, taking ATMs, several online banks and credit card transaction systems – including my Amazon order – offline with them. How is that even possible?

That a single provider is administrating critical systems for several banks and that a failure can take that down this many different systems is rather fantastic. And not in a positive way. Norway isn’t exactly famous for having stable national computer systems: Altinn.no, a service run by the Norwegian government, on which citizens can find, fill out and deliver forms electronically crashed and burned so severely in the beginning of April that the entire site was taken offline for days while the problem was fixed. So why do we continue to accept that critical systems are maintained in a way that makes them this vulnerable? I don’t know, but someone should look into it.

Whenever the terrestrial national TV signal goes dark, the people responsible are given hefty fines every single minute Norwegian TV screens are black. Is the same the case for national banking systems? I think not, and I would argue that we’re at a time in the technological evolution now that online banking services are more important than TV signals. And even though banking is probably more complicated than TV signals, Evry should feel the financial pain when things are not working as they should. It’s the third time in a month that Evry’s systems have gone offline.

Now I have a couple of hundred dollars worth of orders that might or might not be canceled. Maybe my credit card will be charged, maybe it won’t. Thank you for totally screwing this up for me, Evry.

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