Britain’s financial watchdog has lifted restrictions on Wirecard’s UK operations, giving customers access to cash that was frozen amid a €1.9bn (£1.7bn) alleged accounting fraud at its parent firm.
Consumers were locked out of their accounts from Friday, when the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) banned Wirecard Card Services, from carrying on any regulated activities or disposing of any funds or assets.
But by Monday night, the FCA said it was lifting some some restrictions that would allow it to carry out e-money and payment services. “We have been working closely with Wirecard UK and other authorities over the last few days to ensure that the firm was able to meet certain conditions required to lift the restrictions we imposed on it” the FCA said in a statement.
“We are now in a position to allow Wirecard to resume operational activity. This means customers will now, or very shortly, be able to use their cards as usual.”
The UK subsidiary is still blocked from transferring its own assets and faces restrictions on where it can hold customer cash. The FCA said it would continue to monitor the firm closely.
The watchdog said the restrictions were meant to protect customer cash, after its German parent filed for insolvency last week as its accounting scandal widened. However, the move resulted in a worrying weekend for some UK customers who said they faced financial difficulty as a result of the FCA’s crackdown.
The regulator said it was aware that some people “faced difficulties” over the weekend but said it had worked with the Treasury, Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions to help anyone suffering from financial distress.
Wirecard Card Solutions said it was pleased with the changes and would work closely with the FCA to have the remaining restrictions lifted “as soon as possible”.
“There may be a delay before all card programmes are fully operational, so some customers could find themselves unable to transact immediately but we anticipate this lasting no longer than 24 hours. We apologise for the inconvenience to our valued customers that the temporary suspension caused,” the UK firm said.
Meanwhile, Wirecard’s US subsidiary has announced it is putting itself up for sale. It said in a statement that cardholders and client funds “remain safe and protected”.