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Will ePayments make refunds to the clients?

What happened to ePayments

Alex Sagal

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.

What happened to ePayments

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.

According to the official sources

Information from the FCA website as of 30.04.2021:

FCA

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This means that the ePayments license has not been revoked.

Notifications about prohibitions and restrictions

The company has restrictions on the financial services or requirements it has to follow to carry on with its activities.

  1. ePayments must not register or attract new customers without the prior written consent of the FCA.
  2. ePayments must not provide any payment services to existing customers or redeem any electronic money without the prior written consent of the FCA.
  3. The FCA has given consent for ePayments to refund the following groups of customers:
  4. Customers with account balance of equal to or less than £150.
  5. Individual clients classified by the company as low-risk or medium-risk clients.
  6. The refund must be effected to an account opened in the client's name.
  7. ePayments must not issue new electronic money without the prior written consent of the FCA.

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.

What ePayments does and what it promises to the customers

To make it clearer, we present the information in the same order as it appeared on the ePayments official website.

14.02.2020 Suspension of operations on accounts

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].

13.03.2020 Two-factor authentication

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.

14.09.2020 Intentions to update customer data

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

  1. We will soon be in contact to ask you for new information so that we can make sure that the information we hold on you is accurate and up-to-date.
  2. We will start to contact you in groups, as we have a lot of customers.
  3. When we do contact you, your early and timely responses will ensure that this process is finished more quickly.
  4. If we have any questions about the information you provide or need any more information, we’ll be in touch.
  5. Once we’ve updated your information, we’ll be able to share the next steps.

14.09.2020 The update of customer data

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.

06.11.2020 Requirements for personal data and verification

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.

Identity verification

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

01.03.2021 Answers to frequently asked questions

ePayments answered the most common questions.

The platform announced that:

  1. the customer funds are protected by the company and ePayments intends to make refunds in full;
  2. each user will receive an email notification when the platform is ready to effect the refund; 
  3. the refund can be effected only to an account in customer's name;
  4. customers may be required to provide additional documents in connection with the renewed terms of verification imposed by the regulatory bodies.

More information can be found on the platform's website.

23.03.2021 Start of refund for customers with a balance equal to or less than 150 euro

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:

  1. Stage 1 – faster refunds for customers with balances less than Eur150 (already commenced);
  2. Stage 2 – refunds for customers where known information allows for standard refunds (expected to commence very soon);
  3. Stage 3 – refunds for all other customers (likely to be a couple of weeks later after Stage 2 commences);
  4. Stage 4 – fully open for Business As Usual (we will keep you informed on progress).

28.03.2021 The FCA approved the refunds for the 2 Stage customers — low-risk and medium-risk groups, regardless of the amount

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. 

What you need to do to get a refund from ePayments 

In total, to make ready for the refund a customer should:

  1. Set up the two-factor authentication.
  2. Prepare an account to withdraw the funds to.
  3. Receive a letter about the start of refunds. Be fast and accurate in providing the personal data verified by the documents that meet the new requirements (listed above).

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? 

What people think and write about ePayments

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:

  1. improve what? we can't use it. none will stay to your services after all that.. release our funds and you may have a chance to keep some of your clients
  2. It's been months (!!!), I have sent you over and over again a 2-factor authentication request for smartphone change.
  3. Try to contact the financial ombudsman service. I did and they will help me
  4. I ve downloaded that app it worked only once to log in....great ....rest of time device not found...poor internet try later...spending time w support...
  5. Please complete your improvements faster or at least give us more information. This is unacceptable.
  6. They already Scammed, They are not professional. and soon they will lost their license and they will come again with new name

Comments from the Telegram chat

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:

  1. Some people here withdraw their money from time to time. We can see the new reports every other day. But we shouldn't judge by the number of transactions as many of them may be unsuccessful or may belong to ePayments employees. With all this in mind, even based on the transaction numbers that people kindly share with us here I can predict a term of several years until it is all over.

Some say they have received their funds already:

  1. I received three verification requests for my zero-balance account and an approval to withdraw funds from my 40-euro account. They have asked for the bank's confirmation and transferred the money today.

Others criticise the slow progress:

  1. They have started with the biggest group and narrowest funds. On the outside we see so many reactivated accounts. But on the inside the company lacks any real funds. If they tried to do everything like they should to refund us, we would not see a zero-balance account get 3 verification requests.

Opinions about how ePayments is ineffective in solving the problem:

  1. When ePayments said something about a million accounts they were not completely honest I think... There may be a million accounts but the majority have no money on the balance or have some insignificant amounts. So maybe refunds will take less than a few years... We can estimate the population of chats and forums, Twitter and Facebook groups, etc. It will be less than 10K, I understand that there are other clients, but it is still less than we are told. I believe there is less than 100K and maybe even less than 50K of us who are waiting for a refund.

And there is advice to file complaints to the FCA and the Financial Ombudsman Service:

  1. Hi everyone! Some of us still get refunds, right? My advice remains the same. Ask yes/no questions. Ask them if you have to provide any additional documents to withdraw the money. They may tell you to wait. This is not an answer. Ask whether it means that they refuse to give the money back. And so on. You will need it in case of court proceedings: you will be able to prove that they withhold your funds on purpose. If they can no longer dodge the questions we get closer to our goal. This is why you should ask where is your invitation to withdraw the funds if they say you don't have to submit any more documents. In a nutshell. If you get no answer ("be patient and wait" is not an answer) you can file a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service or to the FCA. Do that. It really works. I know that my message will soon be drowned in posts by ePayment affiliates saying they have their money back already. Ok. Give us the transaction numbers! If the situation is getting under way let us see the actual speed. I have also asked them if the approval to withdraw the money comes daily — no answer. I think this means "no", they do not come daily. That is, it is not even every day that someone gets the opportunity to withdraw the funds.

Comments from forums

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:

  1. ePayments is now paying out monies. I got my $$$ out last week.
  2. It was for a business a  UK LTD. ePayments paid out to my business account. I had to send proof that the receiving account is in the same name as the ePayments account.
  3. Good news, I hope they do their process faster. As most of the clients still waiting.

Others do not believe that the refunds have started but still keep waiting:

  1. everyday i learn how these services able to exploit people credulity on long terms.
  2. Last week I got an email to verify my details again. After doing so, I got the usual "we will let you know in several weeks". So far still no access to my founds. 

Please note that these comments are personal opinions of ePayments customers. We take no responsibility for the content of the comments.

Instead of a conclusion

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 and support

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.

If you suspect that you are being deceived, you can contact the FCA and Action Fraud.

For more information, please visit the FCA website.

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