Could the Swine Flu Bring Down Credit Cards?

A banking expert says plastic could stop working in a pandemic.


Jeremy Simon, a guest blogger for Alpha Consumer and reporter for, recently interviewed Dennis Moroney, research director for bank cards at advisory services firm TowerGroup, about whether the swine flu could bring down credit cards. If the flu became a pandemic and consumer spending plummeted, then banks could be affected to such a degree that they could no longer serve their customers, Moroney says. In one potential scenario, Moroney says large numbers of bank employees could be afraid to come to work, which would result in closed banks and empty ATMs. That's why enabling employees to work from home is one part of an emergency-preparedness plan.

Here is an except from Simon's interview with Moroney:

Simon: In the event that [swine flu] did become a pandemic, would my cardholder experience change?

Moroney: I think we're much better positioned now than we were several years ago... I would bet than most, if not all, institutions have a Web site, and the Internet becomes a real plus here. Even with remote agents, as long as they can get into the mainframe and the consumer can come in that way, there would presumably be the ability to stay connected. ... Unless this goes on for a prolonged period of time, I wouldn't think this would be a material impact. Inconvenience? Yes. Disruption? Probably. But when we're gridlocked? Don't think so.