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Finance

Half of Mizuho's ATMs in Japan shut down, with some eating cards

System repair sought by Monday as digital plumbing haunts megabank again

More than half of Mizuho Bank's ATMs in branches across Japan were inoperable Sunday.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- A widespread system glitch has forced more than half of Mizuho Bank's 5,395 automated teller machines in Japan to halt operations, the megabank said Sunday.

Customers were unable to withdraw cash beginning Sunday morning, with some ATMs swallowing bank cards. The bank said an issue occurred while it was updating data regarding savings accounts. A total of 2,956 ATMs, or 55% of the total in Mizuho's branches in Japan, were forced to shut down.

Messages in Japanese, English and Chinese were displayed on the ATM screens, saying the machines were inoperable.

Customers were furious. "Are you from Mizuho? I've been waiting four hours, and nobody has come!" one woman pressed a Nikkei reporter at a branch in Saitama, a city just north of Tokyo.

Some customers called police. One customer wrote on the sheet of paper announcing the system failure that the person's ATM card had been eaten and left a mobile phone number, asking for the bank to call. 

A Mizuho branch in Tokyo's Minato ward tells customers that all ATMs are not working. (Photo by Fumika Sato)

Internet banking also has been affected, with customers unable to perform procedures such as moving money into savings accounts.

Mizuho is rushing to fix the problem in time for Monday morning. The bank issued an apology on its website and said the branches were restarting the ATMs. The company said it would reach out to customers whose cards had been swallowed.

No issues have been reported with ATMs in convenience stores.

The megabank, born in 2002 from a merger among Dai-ichi Kangyo Bank, Fuji Bank and Industrial Bank of Japan, has been crash-prone in the past as it tried to consolidate the networks of all three banks.

A system failure happened in April 2002, just after the merger, and another one hit the bank in March 2011, after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Troubles included double billing, which led to mass complaints.

In summer 2019, the bank invested more than 400 billion yen, or $3.75 billion at today's rates, to upgrade its core banking system.

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