Electronic payments shut down as FCA anti-money laundering regulations tighten

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Electronic payments provider ePayments is putting the final nail in the coffin of its operations. ePayments sent email notices to customers on Tuesday saying it was officially closing its business operations in light of local regulations.

The financial services provider was one of the largest electronic payment providers in the UK. However, almost three years ago the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) ordered it to cease trading due to alleged weaknesses in its “financial crime controls”.

At the time of the initial suspension, ePayments was believed to be holding $149m, or £127.5m, in customer funds, which were temporarily inaccessible.

After years of restructuring efforts, the company attributes the permanent shutdown to “extremely difficult and unprecedented global economic conditions”, years of halted operations and failure to meet FCA requirements satisfactorily.

It indicates that the funds are safe and encourages old customers to withdraw funds to e-wallets and wait for refund information. Twitter users responded to the update with a mixture of relief and frustration, with one user saying he had funds stuck in ePayments since 2020:

while another tweeted company that its funds were still inaccessible.

The development comes as UK financial regulators have tightened the reins on the sector. FCA has recruited nearly 500 new employees over the past year in line with its new three-year strategy.

One of the positions filled included the new Director of Payments and Digital Assets who will oversee issues such as e-money, payments and crypto-asset markets. The post was filled by the former director of the National Economic Crime Command.

Related: FCA highlights limited role as unregistered businesses continue to operate

While some regulators around the country believe the UK cannot afford to send mixed signals about its stance on digital assets and payment services, that still appears to be the case.

New Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng did not address the issue of crypto regulation and recently cracked down advertising watchdogs on crypto-related advertising content on Instagram.

On the other hand, the Economic Secretary issued a statement on September 7 in which he said he wants to make the UK a crypto hub and the first choice for innovators under the new Prime Minister.