ePayments is a UK payment system that, until recently, allowed you to transfer money, pay for purchases, and use money worldwide. ePayments was quite popular in the Western and Eastern Europe and in the CIS region. Many networks and affiliates used this platform in their dealings.
On February 11, 2020, ePayments was forced to suspend operations on customer accounts following an audit of the company's financial performance by the Financial Conduct Authority.
During the audit, the FCA revealed gaps in the current mechanisms of fighting money laundering in ePayments, pointing out the ineffective tracking of potential ways of illegal money circulation and identifying suspicious counterparties and transactions.
In particular, the FCA pointed to illegal transactions that ePayments effected with the Digital Securities Exchange (DSX), which was not licensed by the FCA.
First, let's turn to the official statements.
Information from the FCA website as of 30.04.2021:
It is indicated in the firm status section that ePayments is an authorized electronic money institution since 11.05.2018 and has been granted permission to issue electronic money (e-money) and render payment services.
This means that the ePayments license has not been revoked.
The company has restrictions on the financial services or requirements it has to follow to carry on with its activities.
ePayments must comply with the requirements of Rule 78A (2) (b) of The Electronic Money Regulations 2011 "to refrain from providing account information services or payment initiation services for an indefinite period."
The company is allowed to refund all the customers who have an account balance that is equal or less than 150 pounds. Amounts exceeding 150 pounds are subject to refund if the client is trustworthy and the company sees no risk.
To make it clearer, we present the information in the same order as it appeared on the ePayments official website.
ePayments acknowledged the FCA's findings, suspended customer accounts, and banned new registrations. It was reported on the official website.
The payment system has also informed that it is working tirelessly to ensure improvements according to the FCA's report and to reactivate customer accounts as soon as possible.
ePayments has apologized for the inconvenience assuring that all customer funds are safeguarded as normal in line with section 19 of the ePayments Terms and Conditions. Any questions should be mailed to [email protected].
Under the new rules — Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), ePayments invited customers to enter a second authentication factor to access their account and withdraw money after the reactivation.
The second factor will be generated by the ePayments app. Thus, all customers are encouraged to download and install the ePayments app from the available store (AppStore or Google Play). The steps customers should follow in the app are listed on the official website.
ePayments has announced that the company is ready to start the update of the customer data noting that it is an important step towards the reactivation of accounts. The official article describes the process:
The representatives of the platform have announced that they have already contacted several groups of customers and plan to continue. In the first weeks of October the company also started contacting business clients.
ePayments stressed that the company wants to make sure that personal data submitted by the customers are correct and also listed the requirements for verifying documents:
Personal data of customers
At the first step the customers are required to verify the existing data and correct them if necessary.
Then it is necessary to make sure that the verifying document meets the requirements (available in the drop down menu during the verification process).
Proof of address (POA) verification
Next, the customers should take into account all the requirements for the address verification and provide the correct document.
More information can be found on the platform's website.
ePayments answered the most common questions.
The platform announced that:
More information can be found on the platform's website.
ePayments has announced that on March 17 the first group of customers has already received a refund and that the refund process is gaining speed. This was the beginning of a gradual revival of the business operations. Moreover, the platform is getting prepared to continue operating as usual.
ePayments introduced customers to a stage by stage refund scheme and plans to resume the usual business operations:
ePayments has announced that the FCA had approved the refunds for the 2 Stage customers — individuals who are classed as low or medium risk, irrespective of the balance in their accounts. The refund process will be starting for the customers in this group.
The refunds for the 3 Stage customers, including corporate clients, are still suspended. ePayments awaits the approval from the FCA and will announce the start of the next stage later.
In total, to make ready for the refund a customer should:
If all the conditions are met, ePayments guarantees to repay the funds (not applicable to the 3 Stage customers). The question is: can we rely on this promise? And has anybody got a refund already?
Below we offer a selection of comments from various chats, groups, and forums. These are mostly negative. In fairness, we should notice that a rare customer rushes to write a report on a forum upon actually getting the refund. That is how the human brain works. When a problem is solved it is no longer a pressing matter so we put it out of our mind. But even so, we see a lot of customers angry with the situation and willing to speak up about it.
These are the comments people publish on various forums, in chats, and themed groups. Some are annoyed, others are really angry, and there is a good share of advice exchange going on.
Comments in the official Facebook group
The customers are clearly dissatisfied but they cannot talk it through with ePayments because there is no feedback. There were no answers to the questions. ePayments does not comment or explain anything. Many believe that they have been tricked and the platform does nothing to resolve the situation.
We naturally wonder: if everything is alright and customers gradually get their funds back why not just make an announcement to curb the panic?
Below are the comments from the ePayments official Facebook group:
The platform ignores all the questions from customers. People discuss the situation in special groups and chats. They share their stories, discuss possible measures, and give advice.
The users who don't believe that they will have their money back:
Some say they have received their funds already:
Others criticise the slow progress:
Opinions about how ePayments is ineffective in solving the problem:
And there is advice to file complaints to the FCA and the Financial Ombudsman Service:
These are much more optimistic. People share real stories of getting their money back. Out of 5 posts we saw only 2 negative. And we don't know whether we can trust them.
Some customers get their refunds:
Others do not believe that the refunds have started but still keep waiting:
Please note that these comments are personal opinions of ePayments customers. We take no responsibility for the content of the comments.
Will these people get their money back? We can't be sure. The reason for all this uncertainty lies in lack of information. Open sources have no specific information about the actual results of the refund procedures. ePayments also does not disclose how many users have already withdrawn their funds.
From time to time the company publishes reports on the whole process on its website. The data corresponds to those published on the FCA website. But there is nothing about the actual progress.
For a year ePayments has been working on the improvements, the refunds started only on March 17, 2021. It is clear that a month and a half is not enough to pay back all the customers. We must also take into consideration the fact that the company has to process a lot of customer data. The data are not always correct too. The company has to request verification several times. It is a long process.
But why do they give no feedback regarding the refunds? People are getting anxious and rush to act in any way they deem possible.
What can a regular customer do in this situation? You can forget about the problem and keep waiting for the money and maybe get the refund eventually. You can also engage in email conversation with ePayments and flood them with questions and demands. Or you may file a complaint to the higher authorities. You will find their contact data below. The choice is yours.
Customer protection is the domain of the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Only the first option is available for ePayments customers.
Regarding the Financial Services Compensation System, the FCA explains that the system does not apply to payment services or electronic money payment services. If a company is insolvent any claims should be filed to that company directly.
The ePayments situation may be referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service. You can file a complaint to the FOS if you tried to resolve the situation directly with ePayments but failed.
The FCA recommends contacting the company in question first. The company should respond within 15 days.
For more information, please visit the FCA website.