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FCA says Wirecard making 'good progress'; fintechs warn of economic catastrophe

FCA says Wirecard making 'good progress'; fintechs warn of economic catastrophe

Following last week's action by the Financial Conduct Authority to suspend business at Wirecard UK, the watchdog says it has seen good progress by the battered payments processor in meeting conditions for a return to operational activity.

The FCA last week imposed restrictions on Wirecard UK to cease all regulated activity and to freeze all assets and funds as the German parent company Germany filed for insolvency after the discovery of a $1.9 billion black hole in its balance sheet.

The watchdog's actions caught the UK fintech community off-guard, with many firms who relied on Wirecard for operational support knocked sideways. The FCA is facing pressure from lobby groups supporting the UK fintech sector to speed up the process or risk a crisis of confidence in the sector and the potential failure of dozens of firms.

In an update today, the FCA says it has been working with the firm, and other international and UK authorities, over the weekend, to resolve concerns over the safety of client funds.

"We are maintaining pressure on the firm to resolve these issues which would allow it to operate under certain conditions," states the FCA. "However, we cannot lift the restrictions without reassuring ourselves that the firm has been able to satisfy all our concerns for example that all clients' money is safe. We hope to be able to issue an update soon."

In the meantime, Card consolidation app Curve, has been working overtime at the weekend to migrate away from Wirecard and return to business-as-usual.

In a statement on its Website, the firm says: "We began our transition away from Wirecard a few months back and we are moving furiously down the path to complete this migration. We are hoping to be fully operational soon."

In the interim, all Curve services and accounts have been temporarily suspended.

Mobile business account Anna Money, which was also hit by the fallout, has vowed to replace user's frozen cash from its own pockets, reassuring customers that their accounts remain safe.

The Emerging Payment Association has written to the regulator calling for fast action to avoid lasting damage to the UK fintech sector: "The Emerging Payments Association (EPA) and its members strongly urge the FCA to unfreeze Wirecard Card Services accounts as soon as it can, for the sake of cardholders, companies and their employees, and the UK fintech industry.

"Without this suspension being removed rapidly, we believe there will be significant and lasting damage to individuals, companies and the UK’s current and future prospects as leaders in fintech.

"We believe that the suspension will impact more than 150 companies and thousands of their employees. Not only are revenues no longer flowing, but the costs to service cardholders and to move to alternatives to Wirecard Card Services, a process that takes several months, are significant. We predict dozens of corporate failures, hundreds of job losses and significant reductions in tax payments, unless it is removed right away."

While Wirecard awaits the outcome of insolvency proceedings, rumours abound that Visa and Mastercard are preparing to cut the cord with the payments processor, a move that would put the company into a tailspin from which there would be little hope of a recovery.

Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 30 June, 2020, 10:431 like 1 like

The "replace WC" process will show if the FSA rules on outsourcing and the ability to bring back to outsourced services, are adhered to. If yes, then the businesses using WC should be able to rapidly take the service inhouse or find a new outsourcing supplier. If no, then the outsourcers are in breach of the outsorucing rules. The WC collapse may prove to be a reality check for the FSA on how firms adhere to its outsourcing rules and more FSA auditing could be expected in the near future.

Marina Teramond
Marina Teramond - NMPL - Baltimore, Md 07 July, 2020, 20:12Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

But FCA can not solve the problem with ePayments for 5 months((