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Wirecard Fallout hits a number of Fintechs and their customers

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Wirecard was a troubled company at least that was the lesson of the past week, but Wirecard also had a core that actually existed – that is the painful experience for hundreds of thousands of European Fintech customers. The hardest hit was the highly British credit card startup Curve, which is also used by many people in Germany and Europe.

Nothing went there from Friday after the British financial regulator took Wirecard subsidiary “Wirecard Card Solutions” out of circulation. In addition, a number of other prominent financial startups rely on the services of Wirecard, including Holvi, Kontist, Funding Circle – what about them?

Another Company that was hard hit was Payoneer Inc. which has the largest network of Freelancer and around 4 million Prepaid cards issued by Wirecard, however 99% of users are based outside the European Union which Ukraine, Serbia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Columbia and Brazil taken the largest share of users.

And what about prominent Wirecard customers like Aldi and Allianz?

We tried over the weekend to measure the consequences of the Wirecard fallout as best as possible.

Curve

On April 29 and immediately after the devastating KPMG report on Wirecard, the British credit card Fintech Curve, which is also very popular among German and European technology nerds, announced that it would no longer use Wirecard’s payment infrastructure for its e-money services to fall back on.

On Friday, the British financial regulator FCA withdrew the approval for your business from the local Wirecard company “Wirecard Card Solutions Limited”. A number of Curve customers then received the following email (original emphasis):

” Your Curve card and all associated Curve transaction and money transfer services will be temporarily suspended with immediate effect . Please be assured, we expect to be up and running again shortly but it may take a few days. Your money and card details held at Curve are safe and secure. […] For now, please carry a backup card. 

For a Fintech, it’s almost like the worst case: not being able to provide their own service anymore – and having to tell the customer that it wouldn’t be bad if they still had an alternative card or bank account.

Yesterday evening, Curve announced via Twitter that everything would work again from Monday.

The FCA (the abbreviation stands for “Financial Conduct Authoriy”) has been explaining its procedure in detail on its homepage since Friday ( see here ). In doing so, the FCA also addresses the question of what happens to so-called e-money, which occurs, for example, when a customer has uploaded credit to a prepaid card issued by “Wirecard Card Solutions”.

Anyone who thought that this money was subject to some form of classic deposit insurance – nope, is not as the FCA made clear to users in its FAQ:

“Are my funds protected by FSCS?” – No. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) only applies to certain types of activity which does not include issuing electronic money or payment services. “

Even the popular “Boon” service in Germany is blocked for users, and it is still unclear to what extent and when the customers get their money back.

In theory, customer funds are protected even without traditional deposit insurance. According to the FCA, the “safeguarding” approach is to ensure that payment service providers like Wirecard are obliged to keep their customers’ money in accounts that are kept separate from the company’s accounts.

“Wirecard is required […] to maintain appropriate measures to safeguard customers money. It does this by holding it separate from its own money in accounts with banks (or another credit institution). Effective safeguarding arrangements are critical to help ensure that customers’ money is protected and returned if a firm fails. “

It will be seen whether Wirecard complies with these requirements – whether the theoretical protection also exists in practice.

The “Boon Planet” / Wirecard Bank AG case

“Boon Planet” is Wirecard’s retail banking offering (and its services and functions are comparable to N26). The offer is operated by Wirecard Bank AG. Means: This is not just about payment services according to the e-money license, but it is about real banking services and real deposits.

All in all, Wirecard Bank AG is said to have had customer deposits of around EUR 1.7 billion recently. In our opinion, however, customers do not need to tremble here. Wirecard Bank AG is a member of the German deposit insurance scheme, both in the statutory and in addition in the voluntary protection of the Federal Association of German Banks (BdB) and customers are therefore likely to be compensated.

According to German news reports, BaFin is likely to impose a “moratorium” on the institute in the next few days. After that, the BdB deposit insurance company will take control and ultimately send the Wirecard Bank into bankruptcy.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the other creditors of Wirecard Bank AG. At the end of 2018 (more recent figures are not yet available) and the institute also had liabilities of EUR 3.3 billion to other banks.

In a letter from Wirecard Bank AG to customers, it said on Friday:

“The area of ​​protection basically includes creditors who are natural persons as well as commercial partnerships and legal entities. However, creditors are exempted if they are credit institutions, financial institutions, securities companies or regional authorities, such as the federal government, states and municipalities. “

Which German Fintechs (and other companies) are affected by the Wirecard bankruptcy?

To be honest: We don’t have a complete overview yet – also because our research capacities were limited over the weekend.

Which other Fintech cooperate with Wirecard?

In the archives and conditions, for example, one comes across the following names, whereby it becomes apparent that the number of affected Fintechs in Great Britain is considerably larger than in Germany:

  • STA Travel Cash Flex Prepaid Mastercard
  • Dzing Cards
  • Payoneer (“Payoneer is popular among freelancers in Africa, Eastern Europe and South Asia who make money from online freelance work. Platforms that pay into Payoneer cards include Freelancer, Fiverr, Gettyimages, Upwork, 99Designs, Peopleperhour, Topcoder, Envato, Pond5, and even AirBnB)
  • Pockit
  • Dozens
  • Soldo
  • B4B
  • FairFX
  • U account
  • McLear ring
  • Anna Money
  • EPay Cards
  • Blue cards
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC) with the Travel Cash Flex Prepaid
  • Crypto.com MCO Card

What about Revolut?

Anglo-Saxon business media has repeatedly referred to the connection between Revolut and Wirecard in the past week. In fact, Wirecard was said to have issued and processed Mastercard prepaid cards in the early stages of the British N26 rival. It is not entirely clear to us what the current status of this relationship is: It feels like if a significant number of Revolut customers were massively affected, you would get something out of it. “Forbes” writes (presumably after asking the company): “In the market, it is assumed that Revolut has migrated its payment services away from Wirecard in order to avoid possible complications.” Revolut also says this on social networks: All cards remain functional , all functions of the app have been working.

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Twitter Reports It Locked Account of China’s US Embassy Over Xinjiang Tweet

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SHANGHAI – Twitter has locked the account of China’s U.S. embassy for a tweet that defended China’s policies in the Xinjiang region, which the U.S. social media platform said violated the firm’s policy against “dehumanization.”

The Chinese Embassy account, @ChineseEmbinUS, posted a tweet this month that said that Uighur women were no longer “baby making machines,” citing a study reported by state-backed newspaper China Daily.

The tweet was removed by Twitter and replaced by a label stating that it was no longer available. Although Twitter hides tweets that violate its policies, it requires account owners to manually delete such posts. The Chinese Embassy’s account has not posted any new tweets since January 9.

Twitter’s suspension of the embassy’s account came a day after the Trump administration, in its final hours, accused China of committing genocide in Xinjiang, a finding endorsed by the incoming Biden administration.

The Biden administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Twitter’s move.

“We’ve taken action on the Tweet you referenced for violating our policy against dehumanization, where it states: We prohibit the dehumanization of a group of people based on their religion, caste, age, disability, serious disease, national origin, race, or ethnicity,” a Twitter spokesperson said on Thursday.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment. Twitter is blocked in China but is an increasingly favored platform by China’s diplomats and state media.

China has repeatedly rejected accusations of abuse in its Xinjiang region, where a United Nations panel has said at least 1 million Uighurs and other Muslims had been detained in camps.

Last year, a report by German researcher Adrian Zenz published by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation think tank accused China of using forced sterilization, forced abortion and coercive family planning against minority Muslims. The Chinese foreign ministry said the allegations were groundless and false.

Twitter’s move also follows the removal of the account of former U.S. President Donald Trump, which had 88 million followers, citing the risk of violence after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol this month.

Twitter had locked Trump’s account, asking for deletion of some tweets, before restoring it and then removing it altogether after the former president violated the platform’s policies again.

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Thailand Charges Opposition Figure Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit with Defaming King

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BANGKOK – Billionaire Thai pro-democracy champion Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit on Wednesday evening defended his questioning of a vaccine company owned by the king after he was hit Wednesday with a wave of charges for royal defamation.

Earlier Wednesday, the government had filed multiple charges alleging that Thanathorn had breached the kingdom’s draconian royal defamation law by criticizing the country’s vaccine strategy in a Facebook Live video.

The charges came as Thailand’s establishment tries to extinguish rampant criticism of the monarchy and the lèse-majesté law shielding it.

The move is the latest in dozens of cases brought in recent weeks by the royalist establishment struggling to quash an anti-government movement that has roused unprecedented public criticism of the monarchy’s wealth and political influence with calls for the palace to be put under the constitution.

Thanathorn’s latest legal troubles came after a court Tuesday jailed Anchan Preelert, a former civil servant, for more than 43 years for sharing audio clips seen as defamatory to the monarchy. The sentence is the longest recorded under the lèse-majesté law, which is aimed at shielding the monarchy from criticism, and is widely seen as a warning to the mainly young protesters who massed on Thailand’s streets for much of last year to end their brazen attacks on the monarchy.

Thanathorn was banned from politics by Thai courts and his Future Foward party disbanded, less than a year after the party came from nowhere to garner 6 million votes — mainly among millennials — in a 2019 election.

Under Wednesday’s 10 charges, which carry up to 15 years per conviction of “defaming, threatening or insulting” key royals, including King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Thanathorn could face more than a century in jail.

In a rare move the charges were filed with police — the first step toward a formal charge — directly by the government after Thanathorn held a Facebook Live seminar on the potential for a conflict of interest in the award of a contract to develop a homegrown vaccine to Siam Bioscience, in which the immensely wealthy Vajiralongkorn is the only shareholder.

In his Facebook Live session Monday, Thanathorn asked whether a royalist government headed by ex-army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha could be counted on to hold the company accountable in the event of problems with “unfair distribution, side effects, or other unexpected outcomes,” given who its shareholder is.

The questioning of the monarchy in the potentially lucrative vaccine market brought a swift response from the government.

“Thanathorn distorted facts and caused misunderstanding among people,” Suporn Atthawong, a minister in the prime minister’s office, told reporters on Wednesday after filing Section 112 charges with police.

“He violated the monarchy, which upset Thai people who love and protect the monarchy,” he added.

A day earlier Prayuth, an ex-army chief who led a 2014 coup endorsed by the palace, had warned legal charges were coming.

“Everything he [Thanatorn] said was misinformation, no facts at all. I will have anyone who disseminates misinformation prosecuted,” he said.

Thanathorn hit back late Wednesday.

“The more you try to discredit me or harass me with charges, the more it make you look suspicious. Why does the state have to go these lengths to defend a private company?” he said in a Facebook post.

In his latest Facebook post, Wednesday night, he said, “I was just being curious about how the government is handling the vaccine, but I got charged for it.”

Warning for protesters seen

Experts say the courts are getting tough on sentences for 112 — as the law is more commonly known — as a warning to the youth protesters, to seed fear and stub out flashmobs attacking the 112 law as well as the palace it protects.

Authorities “are using lèse-majesté prosecutions as their last resort … in response to the youth-led democracy uprising that seeks to curb the king’s powers and keep him within the bounds of constitutional rule,” said Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.

The legal noose is tightening around critics of the monarchy, by some estimates the world’s richest, as Thailand’s top institution reasserts its power after months of being put off balance by the protesters’ angry, satirical attacks — which include speeches, banners and online memes.

Their rallies, which at their peak drew tens of thousands, were drifting toward violent confrontation with royalists before they were suspended while Thailand battles a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus.

But protesters have turned to guerrilla tactics during the lull, hanging banners from exclusive shopping malls and daubing their discontent with the 112 law which is being pointed at them on walls.

Attapon Buapat, a key protest leader, told VOA that the latest show of legal force by the state will not “deter” the movement.

He also said it would not deter him personally, although he faces multiple Section 112 charges, adding, “We should not fear to fight for what we believe.”

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Brazil

The Amazonas Nurse of Manaus Brazil

Wolfgang Holzem

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President Jair Bolsonaro has been downplaying the threat of the virus for weeks and Indigenous peoples in the Amazonas state in Brazil are particularly at risk and you are now forced to help yourself.

The only 50 intensive care beds in the metropolis of Manaus, which has a population of 1.7 million, have been occupied for weeks. Mass graves were dug in the cemeteries and every day, around a hundred people are buried in the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas.

Brazil Coronavirus Report
8,850,135
Confirmed
33,881
Confirmed (24h)
217,133
Deaths
658
Deaths (24h)
2.5%
Deaths (%)
7,826,079
Recovered
20,425
Recovered (24h)
88.4%
Recovered (%)
806,923
Active
9.1%
Active (%)

The city’s health system has collapsed, the dead are stored in refrigerated containers or are being picked up by volunteer undertakers – urban services have long ceased to be in control of the situation and the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ignores the plight of the Brazlians.

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