ePayments or FCA: who is to blame for the fact that all customer accounts are frozen?

On February 11, 2020, clients of ePayments (payment system) received messages that their accounts were temporarily frozen, and the following message appeared on the home page of www.epayments.com:

The main problem – NO ONE TALKS ABOUT TIME FRAMES!

Clients have been patiently waiting for almost half a year! But the support team of ePayments doesn’t say anything particular. Besides, the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) doesn’t set any deadlines for ePayments to solve their issues in accordance with FCA’s requirements.

FCA’s response about time frames:


NAVIGATION (main questions / topics):

 


What has happened since the accounts were blocked and what have we been able to achieve?

Nothing … NOTHING! For all this time, only 9 updates appeared in Epayments blog (information is current as of July 3st, 2020). Not a word about the timing. Customers still don’t understand what to expect, and most importantly, when the funds are unlocked. More and more people are sure that this is scam and that they can forget about their money.

 

What have the clients of frozen accounts already done? Where did they write letters, call, and what answers did they get?

Clients write daily to ePayments support with the hope of clarifying the situation a little, but they always receive template answers:

 

Many clients got the “Final Response” from Epayments so that they can send a complaint to the Ombudsman (www.Financial-Ombudsman.org.uk), but it also haven’t lead to anything! The result is the same – template answers from the Ombudsman.


Personally, I sent letters to the following:

No one can help this situation! Some say: ask ePayments directly. Others reply: write to the Ombudsman or the FCA, etc. And we have no idea where to look for responsibles for that situation.

The NCA (www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk) simply replied that this was not in their competence and sent me to FRCC (the organization that controls the FCA):

 

I have only one main question … If there were any flaws in the work of the payment system that should have been eliminated (according to the news from February 11, there are problems in the “anti-money laundering” control system), then why are the deadlines for fixing it haven’t been set? Can this process last for years? ((

 

Where do active ePayments users communicate and share information?

The main platform for communication and discussion of various news is Telegram.

Here are a some active groups:

The official pages on social networks are very quiet:

It all looks very sad 🙁

There’s also a petition on Avaaz.org:

If you are ePayments client and haven’t signed it yet, then please do so (it will take just 2 minutes).

 

Who slows down the process – ePayments, FCA or someone else ..?

So, is ePayments working on eliminating the problems or are they just buying themselves time – this is another big question!

Who (or what) does it depend on, whether accounts will be unlocked or Customers will have to forget about their savings?

Perhaps this is the FCA doing everything to prevent ePayments from returning to its work again. But why they just not take the license away from the payment system and start the process of refunding money to the Customers by court (carefully having checked the origin of the money on the account of each client)?

The problem is that we, ordinary users, don’t know anything. There are a lot of questions and there are zero answers!

 

What to do next in this situation?

There are not too many options. I would say there are only 2:

  • just sit and wait for the unknown;
  • try to resolve the issue with the help of lawyers.

On the second point, by the way, there are already some good endeavors – to raise funds and file a class action lawsuit. To sue Epayments by means of only one person would be very difficult, and most importantly expensive. A class action lawsuit looks like a more realistic option.

Detailed information on this subject can be found HERE.

The community is also ready to consider the offers from lawyers with positive experience in similar cases!

I also consider it necessary to continue writing emails and calling to FCA (organization that controls EP) and FRCC (the organization that controls FCA), asking them questions.

Their contacts:

The Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner

Financial Conduct Authority

Perhaps “silence is gold”, but certainly not in this situation.

 

Is there an opportunity to speak with representatives of ePayments in person?

At the moment, there is NO such opportunity!

At least based on the latest support responses:

 

Can those users, who were NOT engaged in money laundering through ePayments, withdraw their funds? FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) answers.

Unfortunately NO! No one can get their money back. All users are in the same position: those who were laundering money (if there are any) and those who were just getting their wages through ePayments.

I’ve sent letters to different authorities, asking to check the origin of the funds on my account and to make a transfer to my personal bank account (if they don’t have any claims to me, of course). I didn’t break any laws! The funds on my account is payments from one affiliate program that provides financial services (nothing illegal!). Checking transfers / deposits on my account is very easy. But does anyone care? 🙁

FCA.org.uk’s response (March 3, 2020):

Dear ***

Thank you for contacting the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

I understand that you’re a customer of  Epayments Systems Ltd and your account has been frozen and you’re unable to withdraw your money. I can appreciate this must be a frustrating matter for you.

EPayments Systems
The FCA Register is a database of financial service firms and I’ve searched this Register for details of Epayments Systems. There’s an entry appearing for a firm of that name which is listed as an ‘Authorised Electronic Money Institution’. This means they have the permission to issue electronic money and provide payment services. You can view their Register entry here.

If this isn’t the same firm that your concerns relate to, please do let us know.

The suspension of activity on customer accounts
As part of our ongoing supervisory discussions with Epayments Systems Ltd, we became concerned about their financial crime controls. As a result of these concerns, Epayments Systems Ltd agreed to the following requirements:

They must not, without prior written consent of the FCA:

register nor on-board new customers;

conduct business (for the avoidance of doubt this includes executing inbound payments) with customers categorised by Epayments Systems as corporate, individuals and/or freelancers. At this time, the FCA only gives consent to Epayments Systems to conduct business with an agreed list of customers; and

Epayments Systems may only allow first party payments between this agreed list of customers in their own name with a financial institution within the customer’s jurisdiction of incorporation.

You can view the full list of requirements via the ‘Permission’ section of their FCA Register entry.

We are working with the firm on their remediation plan to address the deficiencies identified. Epayments Systems must apply to the FCA to remove the requirements once they can satisfy the FCA that the concerns around its financial crime controls have been remediated.

What should you do if you have money held with Epayments Systems?
If you have any concerns about the money you have held with Epayments Systems or are looking for any updates on when you may be likely to access your money, you’ll need to contact Epayments Systems directly. For your convenience, I’ve provided their contact details for you below:

Address:
91 Wimpole Street
London
W1G 0EF

Phone: +442078732383
Email: mr@epayments.com

It’s important to note that your funds should be safeguarded. Safeguarding is a key consumer protection measure within the Electronic Money Regulations (EMRs) and Payments Services Regulations (PSRs). The purpose of safeguarding is to protect customer money if a firm fails.

Safeguarding requires firms to protect customers’ funds received in exchange for e-money or payment services, by either holding it separately from all other money held by the firm in an appropriate account, or by having an insurance policy/comparable guarantee covering the value of customer funds that would pay out if a firm enters insolvency.

A firm’s ability to effectively safeguard customers’ funds is critical to help ensure that customers’ money is protected if a firm fails. These safeguarding requirements applied to Epayments Systems and were a condition of Epayments Systems authorisation.

If you’re not satisfied with how the firm are communicating information regarding the matter you can complain.

I hope this information has been of use and thank you again for taking the time to contact us. Lastly, to help us improve our service, I’m interested in finding out about your experience with the Supervision Hub today. I’ll send you a link to a survey and I’d appreciate it if you could take a few moments to share your feedback on the service you’ve received.

Yours sincerely, Kirstie Jackson
Supervisor / Supervision Hub
Supervision – Retail and Authorisations / Tel: 0800 111 6768

And the second FCA.org.uk’s response (April 23, 2020):

Dear Mr ***

Thank you for contacting the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with your email dated 17 April 2020. Our Complaints Team have forwarded us your email as they don’t consider this a complaint about the FCA.

I can see from your email that you have been in contact with the FCA about the situation surrounding Epayments Services and I am sorry to hear about your situation. I can appreciate that this must be an extremely worrying time for you.

I understand that the Complaints Commissioner advised you to contact the FCA.

However, there is no additional information that I can provide to you at this time. We can only share information which is publicly available as our Supervisory work is confidential. Currently, as advised you to before, the time it takes for the requirements to be removed is dependent on how long it takes Epayments Systems to address the issues that were raised.

Making a formal complaint

I do want to let you know though, if you are unhappy with the situation surrounding your account or if you’re unhappy with the updates that Epayments are providing to you then you may be able to follow the formal complaints process against them.

We have more information about the complaints process on our website (including a step by step guide) which you may find useful.

 The first step in the complaint process is to contact Epayments Services Ltd and advise them that you are making a formal complaint. You can contact their Complaints Team on the details using this link to our Register.

 If the firm are unable to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction, or if you do not receive a response after 15 days then you may be able to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. They are the organisation who investigate complaints between consumers and authorised firms and you can find out more about what they do and how to contact them on their website.

If there is any additional information we can share with you about this situation then we will publish this on our website.

I appreciate that this may not be the response that you were looking for but I hope I have provided you with some clarification.

Yours sincerely

Samantha Stewart (Ms)

Supervisor | Supervision Hub

Financial Conduct Authority | www.fca.org.uk

Consumer Helpline: 0300 500 8082

FRCC‘s response (April 17, 2020):

 

Everyone has their own problems and concerns. But it turns out that law-abiding citizens suffer because someone used to launder money through ePayments. And it lasts for almost half a year…

 

Ask your question or leave a comment!

Write your questions or information about the situation in the comments.

If you have any interesting screenshots, send them to: info@epaymentsreviews.com or epa-reviews@ya.ru

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