Visa confirms Coinbase wasn’t at fault for overcharging users


Yesterday, we wrote that Coinbase customers were being charged multiple times for past transactions.

While some speculated that the erroneous withdraws were down to a Coinbase engineering issue, Coinbase issued a statement saying it wasn’t liable for the duplicate charges. The blame, instead, rested with Visa for the way it handled a migration of merchant categories for cryptocurrencies, Coinbase said.

While you can read my post yesterday for an in-depth description of what happened, the basic gist is that Visa refunded and recharged (under a different merchant category) a month of old transactions. Many users saw the recharge come through before the refund processed, making it look like they were double charged. Honestly, the issue was likely exacerbated by existing payment rails — it’s normal for refunds to take multiple days to show up on credit and debit statements.

But here’s where it gets weird — this morning Visa issued a statement to some publications shifting the blame back to Coinbase, telling TNW that “Visa has not made any systems changes that would result in the duplicate transactions cardholders are reporting.” We are also not aware of any other merchants who are experiencing this issue.”

But now it seems that the payment giant has revised its stance, and clarified that it wasn’t Coinbase’s fault.

The following is a joint statement from Visa and Worldpay, which is Coinbase’s payment processor partner. While Coinbase initially distributed the statement on its own blog, we’ve also received the statement directly from Visa.

Over the last two days, some customers who used a credit or debit card at Coinbase may have seen duplicate transactions posted to their cardholder accounts.

This issue was not caused by Coinbase.

Worldpay and Coinbase have been working with Visa and Visa issuing banks to ensure that the duplicate transactions have been reversed and appropriate credits have been posted to cardholder accounts. All reversal transactions have now been issued, and should appear on customers’ credit card and debit card accounts within the next few days. We believe the majority of these reversals have already posted to accounts. If you continue to have problems with your credit or debit card account after this reversal period, including issues relating to card fees or charges, we encourage you to contact your card issuing bank.

We deeply regret any inconvenience this may have caused customers.

While the statement doesn’t give a ton of clarity on the issue, it seems to absolve Coinbase of any blame, which is a win for the startup considering it’s been trying to prove to the world that its engineering and customer service teams can stand up to the challenge of maintaining a reliable financial platform.

Indeed, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong hit out at media reports that initially placed the blame for the snafu on Coinbase.

The startup — is valued at $1.6 billion after raising $100 million last year — has endured some challenging periods as it continues to scale its service to accommodate its 10 million-plus registered customers.

Issues over the past year have included muddling prices on Overstock.com, a flash crash, and a general struggle to keep up as cryptocurrencies boomed in 2017. In December, Coinbase launched an internal investigation into suggestions that company insiders profited from knowledge of impending support for Bitcoin Cash.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency.

Jon Russell contributed to this story. He also owns a small amount of cryptocurrency.

Featured Image: Håkan Dahlström Photography/Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE

The White House wants to ban cell phones, citing security risk


The Donald can’t seem to keep his hands off the phone while in the White House, but the same rules may not apply to his staff in the near future. The White House is mulling a personal cell phone ban for employees and possibly visitors, citing cybersecurity concerns.

A handful of administration officials have been chatting with the press about the ban in the last couple of days, including White House chief of staff John Kelly, whose smartphone was reportedly hacked by foreign operatives.

Kelly noticed his phone wasn’t working properly and handed it over to White House tech support, only for them to find it had been “externally breached,” according to a segment in October where Rachel Maddow detailed the incident.

All mobile devices have since been banned in the West Wing.

The new ban is just a proposal for now, according to Yahoo News, and it’s not clear when or if it would be imposed. However, if it does go into effect, it would apply to the personal mobile devices of all White House staffers.

The ban would also mean no one would be able to send texts from the White House as official White House-issued mobile devices are not capable of sending texts.

While that might cut down on some of the leaks coming from inside, which Trump has been vocally upset about since taking office, it also would place a hardship on staffers needing to communicate with family members. Some have expressed concerns the ban would have “unintended consequences” or they could be accused of wasting government resources for placing outside calls on staff-issued phones, according to Yahoo News.

Also note that any calls, personal or otherwise, on a White House mobile phone are required to be kept as a government record and would eventually be archived and made public.

Opponents of the ban have raised concerns over violations of their personal privacy. However, national security concerns may win out in the end. We’ll just have to see if the White House goes through with the ban.

Featured Image: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Staff/Getty Images