The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has placed a freeze on Wirecard’s UK operations as of 12pm today (26 June 2020).
The FCA said that the firm:
- must not dispose of any assets or funds
- must not carry on any regulated activities
- must set out a statement on its website and communicate to customers that it is no longer permitted to conduct any regulated activities.
In practical terms it means customers might not be able to access their money in the interim, although it is safeguarded so people should get their money back eventually.
Fintech companies including Pockit, Soldo, Anna Money and Curve all use Wirecard’s services.
Anna Money has told customers to withdraw their money as soon as possible, while Curve has told its customers to carry a backup card.
The freeze will also affect those who have pre-paid cards, especially for travel money.
Asda Travel Money Card, Sainsbury’s Cash Passport, Moneycorp Explorer Multi-Currency Card are among some of the ones affected.
If you have a pre-paid card, the key term to look for is “issued by Wirecard Card Solutions Ltd (“WDCS”)”.
How do you get access to your money?
The FCA has advised customers to contact their card provider or Wirecard directly.
Concerned customers can also contact the FCA’s consumer helpline for more information.
However, if you get any benefits paid into an account affected by the freeze, you’re asked to contact the Department of Work and Pensions.
Why has the FCA frozen Wirecard’s services?
In short, it’s to protect people’s money after a fraud scandal involving Wirecard’s parent company in Germany triggered its collapse.
Wirecard UK is a separate entity but obviously the FCA wants UK customers’ money to be protected from what’s happening in Germany.
The FCA said: “Following last week’s news of €1.9 billion missing from the accounts of the German company, Wirecard, we immediately placed requirements on the firm’s UK business so that it should not pay out or reduce any money it holds for its customers except on their instructions.
“We have been working closely with Wirecard UK and other authorities over the past few days to take action that protects consumers.
“We are continuing to do this and on 26 June, we took additional measures to require the firm to cease all regulated activities in order to further protect customer money. This now means customers money cannot be accessed.”