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December 1, 2014

Banks come through Black Friday with flying colours

So far, so good. It may be tempting fate but so far as I can see the websites of the major banks, cards programmes and payments processors have coped admirably with the frenzy that is Black Friday/Cyber Monday, writes Douglas Blakey

By Verdict Staff

Traditionally a US post-Thanksgiving buying spree, Black Friday has been hyped up in recent years in the UK and now attracts huge interest.

According to Visa Europe, £360,000 will be spent every minute online over the weekend with £500bn to be spent during Cyber Monday in just the UK.

Online transactions were expected to soar by almost one-quarter year-on-year with 8.5m items purchased digitally.

So if ever there was scope for bank online systems to fall down under weight of online traffic, this was the weekend.

For the UK banks, take a bow. Systems have coped with the demand and there has been no hard luck stories of consumers missing a bargain due to some alleged failing on the part of the bank or card issuer.

By contrast a number of retailers have come unstuck. Retailers, by the by, that a number of consultants and analysts are often quick to suggest that financial institutions ought to learn from when it comes to the online customer experience.

Take Best Buy, ‘the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer’. On Friday, it had to shutter due to "a concentrated spike in mobile traffic."

Tesco also made the news: the retail unit Tesco Direct, not Tesco Bank I hasten to add.

Fashion website Net-a-Porter launched a sale and promptly had a lie down due to weight of traffic; meantime PC World, GAME and Boots also suffered online outages and Currys’ customers reportedly had to endure an online queue of up to 30 minutes.

Argos, if press reports are accurate, failed to cope with 17,000 visiting the website every minute between 8am and 9am.

But amid all the online chaos and retailer hype, salaries were credited to bank accounts without any reported issues; card transactions worked well and online processing passed off without incident.

The next time some smart-Alick consultant tells me just how much banks need to learn from the online shopping experience of well known retailers, I may just remind him or her the past few days.

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