Software error leaves German shops unable to accept card payments for days

Software error leaves German shops unable to accept card payments for days

Being able to pay by card is never something you can take for granted in Germany, but over the last week the situation has gotten even trickier. A massive software error has left numerous businesses across the country unable to accept card payments for nearly a week, and the issue is still not fixed. 

What’s the problem with card payments in Germany?

Since last Tuesday, multiple retailers in Germany, including some major chains, have been forced to implement a cash-only policy after their card payment terminals stopped processing payments. The issue, which has been affecting branches of Netto, Edeka, Rewe, Aldi Nord, Esso, Rossmann and DM, among others, seemed to be linked to a certain model of Verifone card payments terminals, which experienced a software malfunction. 

On Friday last week, Verifone started rolling out a software update designed to fix the problem, but retailers with older card machine models are having to “manually” update their devices, which is causing delays. “We assume that [the updates] cannot be carried out ad hoc… but will probably take a few days,” a spokesperson said at the weekend. They also emphasised that the issue was a software malfunction, and did not represent a security threat. 

Many shops still affected, customers told to take out cash

Nonetheless, the glitch has left many shops and other businesses unable to accept card payments for nearly a week now. It’s not clear exactly how many, but since the Verifone H5000 reader is one of the most popular models in Germany, it is estimated that thousands of shops are experiencing issues. In some cases, businesses have begun to replace the malfunctioning card readers with newer models, rather than waiting for the update. 

Customers are being encouraged to take cash out when out shopping, just in case a retailer is unable to accept card payments. Shops that are experiencing issues have also been putting out signs to let customers know, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be caught out at the till. However, banks are also reporting longer-than-usual queues at cash machines due to the issue with card payments. 

The whole saga has, inevitably, become yet another opportunity to poke fun at Germany’s relatively woeful record when it comes to digital life. Renowned as a country that’s clinging on to its cash, Germany only saw card payments overtake cash transactions in 2020, as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic

Questions have been raised in recent days about how often businesses in Germany update their card payment terminals, and how long a reboot can really take. This tweet from ZDF really says it all: 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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