Singapore

Wirecard closes abruptly, leaving firms scrambling to find provider

Troubled financial services provider Wirecard abruptly pulled the plug on its services yesterday, leaving local businesses scrambling to switch payment providers.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) had earlier given the German payment firm until Oct 14 to stop its payment services and return all customers' funds.

However, MAS told The Straits Times that Wirecard has informed the authority it has ceased providing payment processing services to customers and is assisting its customers on alternative service providers.

Some retailers said it has been tough finding alternative e-payment firms that offer competitive rates.

Ms Ariel Lee, director of food and beverage firm Sunpark Singapore, which runs brands such as Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen and Belle-Ville pancake cafe, said: "We didn't switch earlier because there was no concrete news that (Wirecard) can't provide services, and they were paying us on time."

Credit card transactions began being rejected by the system at the group's outlets just after noon yesterday.

While it has other payment options, credit cards make up 20 per cent of its total transactions.

Ms Lee added: "The new quotes I got from other firms are at least 0.5 to 1 percentage points higher, which translates to pretty high fees in the long run. Some companies also want to charge terminal fees for the physical scanner."

Wirecard said yesterday that it regrets MAS' decision, adding: "We would like to assure all our customers that we will work with MAS to minimise disruption to payment services."

Wirecard's main business activities here involve processing Visa and Mastercard payments for merchants and helping companies issue prepaid cards.

Wirecard's major clients here include taxi firm ComfortDelGro.

Ms Tammy Tan, its chief corporate communications officer, said the company is working with several alternative providers to minimise impact to its customers.

An NTUC Income spokesman said its direct arrangements with Wirecard ceased in August.

Alternative forms of e-payment include Nets, PayNow and SGQR.

Banks said they have been helping merchants to switch payment service providers in the last few months but added that the process usually takes some time.

BUSINESS & FINANCE