ePayments shutters as FCA anti-money laundering regulations tightens

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The electronic payments provider ePayments is putting the final nail in the coffin of its operations. ePayments issued email notices to clients on Sept.12, stating that it is officially closing its business operations in light of local regulations.

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

At the time of the initial suspension, it was estimated that ePayments held £127.5 million in customer funds, which were temporarily inaccessible.

After years of restructuring efforts, the company attributes the final closure to “extremely challenging and unprecedented global economic conditions,” years of halted operations and being unable to satisfactorily meet the FCA’s requirements.

It says funds are safe and encourages former customers to withdraw funds in eWallets and stand by for refund information. Users on Twitter 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 to the company that his funds were still inaccessible.

This development comes as the U.K.’s financial regulators have been tightening the reins on the industry. The FCA recruited nearly 500 new employees over the last year in accordance with its new three-year strategy.

One of the positions filled included the newly created director of payments and digital assets which will oversee matters such as e-money, payment and crypto-asset markets. The position was filled by former director at the National Economic Crime Command.

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

While some regulators in the country believe the U.K. cannot afford to send mixed signals as to its stance on digital assets and payment services, it still appears to be the case.

The newly appointed finance minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, has not addressed the issue of crypto regulations and advertising watchdogs recently cracked down on crypto-related ad content on Instagram.

On the other hand, the economic secretary made a statement on Sept. 7 in which he said he wants to make the U.K. a crypto hub and top choice for innovators under the new prime minister.