In Portugal, the entire electronic payment system crashed this morning,   just  two days after MasterCard launched  its Prepaid Europe conference in the capital Lisbon.

No one could withdraw cash from ATM machines or use their cards at points of sale in the country   from 7.30am to 8.15am local time, because of  technical issues experienced on MULTIBANCO, the network of the Portuguese transaction processor SIBS.

Connections to international systems were also temporarily cut-off. According to SIBS, the service was partially resumed by 8.15am, and totally by 11.00am.

SIBS Communication Manager Maria Antónia Saldanha told Cards International that the breakdown was due to problems of “communication  between the machines and the banks”.  She denies any extraordinary fault occurred.

“It was just a problem of communication due to maintenance. We usually update our system from 2 to 3am. Today it took a little bit longer than expected, but it was a regular transaction update,” said Saldanha.

The incident occurred  during MasterCard’s three days conference on prepaid cards, entitled “A World Beyond Cash”.