Millions of dollars belonging to Pakistani freelancers stuck indefinitely amid Wirecard fraud

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Updated news: Pakistani freelancers to regain access to blocked funds on Payoneer cards today.  

LAHORE/KARACHI:Thousands of Payoneer users in Pakistan are expected to lose access to money in their prepaid cards with the company owing to the fallout from a devastating scandal that hit German fintech firm Wirecard AG.

Payoneer is a global payments company that enables millions of businesses and professionals from more than 200 countries to make seamless cross-border payments. One of its products is Payoneer Prepaid Mastercard, which is issued by Wirecard AG’s UK-based subsidiary Wirecard Card Solutions Limited (WCSL).

On Thursday, Wirecard AG filed for insolvency after it was revealed that the company was involved in the accounting fraud and reported that 1.9 billion euros from the company account were missing. Subsequently, the UK regulator of WCSL, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), ordered WCSL to freeze all prepaid card activity for the time being.

The FCA has communicated that they have taken these measures with the primary objective of protecting the interests and money of consumers who use Wirecard services. Pending further actions from the FCA, all payments services, including Payoneer, that subscribe to Wirecard, their cards will be blocked temporarily and the users will not be able to withdraw the funds on these cards, nor receive new payments.

Payoneer CEO Scott Galit stated, “We understand that the developing situation with Wirecard has created a lot of concern and challenges for Payoneer Prepaid Mastercard®️ card users. We have been assured by the FCA that the freeze was put in place to ensure the protection of all cardholders funds. We have also been given repeated reassurances that all funds are properly safeguarded. Progress is being made to lift the freeze, and we will continue to update you as soon as more information is available. This situation has impacted the customers of many companies, and we believe that it will be resolved soon.

In the meantime, incoming funds to Payoneer users can be withdrawn to bank accounts, or held in a Payoneer Account which remains safe and secure. All funds held in Payoneer are fully liquid and available and held in global leading banks. Our company is strong and stable, and committed to safeguarding our customers’ funds in accordance with all relevant global regulations.

We know that our customers depend on these funds, and that this freeze has created hardships for many people. We have enabled alternative solutions for payment withdrawal, and are working to address any technical issues that have come up, and to help our customers in any way we can.”

Payoneer, in its blog, also assured its users that the funds stored on individual Payoneer Prepaid Mastercard users were safe and secure.

“Although Wirecard Card Solutions Limited is a subsidiary within the Wirecard group and shares the same brand, they are an entirely independent entity with their own board, their own regulatory and capital requirements and are subject to regulatory oversight and accounting standards in the UK,” the blog post read.

“As they are independent, your card is not impacted and you can continue to use it as usual. Nonetheless, we work with other issuers including our own, and are working on contingency plans to ensure we maintain continuity and redundancy now and in the future. Even in the unlikely event of insolvency of Wirecard Card Solutions Limited, funds held on your card remain secure as they are held in trust in safeguarded accounts at regulated credit institutions in the UK and the European Economic Area (EEA) and designated as your funds,” it read.

Payoneer prepaid cards are mostly used by freelancers in Pakistan to receive payments from offshore clients for the projects they deliver. Besides freelancers, small companies also use Payoneer’s services for international payments.

The payment can be retrieved into a prepaid card or an app-based virtual account. People who use prepaid cards have temporarily lost access to cash as the cards have been blocked for an indefinite period of time. While no timeline has been given by Payoneer for resumption of card services, the company says that users are able to transfer money from their virtual accounts to local bank accounts for withdrawal.

There is no reliable data on the number of Payoneer card users in Pakistan. Industry experts however estimate that there are between 50,000 to 100,000 total Payoneer users in the country. Payoneer did not respond to Profit’s queries about the number of Payoneer card holders in Pakistan.

“In the context of Pakistan, this should be a wakeup call to have multiple fall back plans and payment options for freelancers and small companies so that they are not reliant on one or two key providers to minimise the risk for freelancers,” said senior consultant and former [email protected] secretary general Shehryar Hyderi.

Freelancers in Pakistan have long been decrying the absence of secured payment options for international transactions. There had been a forceful demand from freelancers to bring payment platforms like PayPal to Pakistan.

On Friday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) also issued notices to commerce and information technology sectors for failing to meet the requirements quoted in the e-commerce policy, which has kept mega-companies like Paypal and Amazon at bay.

The government had made an effort last year to bring PayPal into Pakistan. PayPal, however, refused to start operations in Pakistan.

37 COMMENTS

      • Yup!
        Let the user to say who used payoneer card as default instead of bank account transfers they will tell you how big thing is this.

    • Bank transfer and Jazzcash is available only for future payments i-e money being received after the freeze. The money already in account is stuck.

  1. Musadiq You right

    I just withdrawn my dollars from Payoneer because the payment was credited to my payoneer account after this issue

  2. یہ کہانیاں شروع ہی تب ہوتی ہیں جب ان کمپنیوں نے بھاگنا ہوتا ہے۔
    .
    اصل مسلہ یہ ہے کہ پیسہ ان کے ہاتھ سے نکل چکا ہے۔ برطانیہ کی حکومت سے پیسہ واپس ملنا تقریبا ناممکن ہے۔ آپ دیکھ لینا کچھ دنوں کے بعد یہ ایک اور کہانی سنائے گا اور کہے گا کہ بات ہمارے ہاتھوں سے نکل چکی ہے
    .
    کبھی آپ نے سنا ہے کہ کسی پاکستانی بنک نے لاکھوں لوگوں کے اکاونٹ ایک دم فریز کر دئے ہوں اور کہیں کہ جی ماسٹر کارڈ یا ویزا کارڈ نے اتنے ڈالر کا فراڈ کیا ہے اور ہمیں اپنے کسٹمرز کے اکاونٹ بلاک کرنے پڑ گئے۔اور تو اور پےپال میں کبھی ایسے مسلے دیکھے ہیں وہ بھی تو بیس سالوں سے کاروبار کر رہے ہیں ان کے ساتھ کیوں کوئی مسلہ نہیں آتا۔
    .
    ہو سکتا ہے کہ یہ اپنی ساکھ بچانے کیلئے ان لوگوں کو رقوم واپس کر دیں جن کی اماونٹ کم ہو تاکہ یہ تاثر دیا جاسکے کہ ہم تو ٹھیک تھے لیکن ہماری کارڈ بنانے والے کمپنی نے دھوکا دیا۔ دیکھ لینا یہ بڑے بڑے اکاونٹ ہولڈرز کو کبھی بھی رقم واپس نہیں کریں گے اور ہیلے بہانے کرتے رہیں گے۔ یہاں تک کہ ایک دن ان کی ویبسائیٹ ہی حکومت بند کر دے گی۔ میرے خیال میں تو اس طرح کے سکیمز میں حکومتیں بھی ساتھ ملی ہوئی ہوتی ہیں۔
    .
    اسلئے جتنی جلدی ہو سکے میرا مشورہ تو یہی ہے کہ اپنی اپنی رقوم پے یونئیر سے نکال لو۔ کسی بھی آن لائن کمپنی پر کبھی بھی اندھا اعتماد نہ کرو

  3. It seems that government exists only to chase little man. When I owe 10$ to government, I cannot leave the country (if it is traffic penalty). Using that fact, how it is possible that someone made almost 2B$ fraud ? It is obviously that no-one control them. It is not poetry, it is math and fraud is easy to discover.

    • The aforementioned fraud took place in Germany. Government of Pakistan has no jurisdiction there. The government can do nothing for freelancers because the money that is stuck was never in Pakistan

  4. yar hum kisss jaga reh rahy hain bc aik paypal nahi araha…pakistan main filer ho k b dollar account nahi bana k dety…or yahan roz roz aik hi rona rehty hain polititions k pakistan main dollars nahi arahy…pechly 5 years sy exchange ki mad main dollar mian per dolar 7 rupees kat rahy hain….samajh nahi ati ya country chorh k jayen to kayesy jayen passport to nahi zalalat ka parwana hai jahan dikhawo galiyan dy k bagaty hain…..

    • bro dont be putwari please do Urdu translation, yeah article German government ka hy Pakistan ka nhi ajeb bawla log bhai Glian daikar islia bhagata hian kiunka to ak jahil banda hy Pakistan Passport ka masla nhi

      • chutiye siraf bhonk sakta hai tu achi speach sun k maaa behnain nachany waly dalal na hoty to ayesi bakwas na karty har banda apni raye rakhta hai har jaga rundi ban k mujra na kiya kar logon ko bolny k haq diya karo barwy

  5. Unfortunately I have almost $8,000 stuck in previous funds. New funds will become available and ready for transfer. The old funds will remain stuck while the FCA does it’s due diligence. Who knows how long that will take and whether any money will actually be found. If not, we lose everything there. Let’s hope for the best.

    Payoneer didn’t care or inform anyone that the cards were issued by Wirecard. As a US based entity I would have assumed there would be no shortage of card issuers. There was a huge lack of transparency and a massive failure by them.

    Thank you Zardari and Nawaz Sharif for ensuring you can launder money but that no resident can bring it in without facing massive issues.

    • Perhaps we should think about visiting the Payoneer Pakistan office and relieving them of their possessions till our losses are made whole.

      • Not a good idea. Inciting violence will get you nowhere. You’re a human, not an animal. Stay civilized please.

        • Gora can be as cruel as he wants. Gora can be an animal at anytime. 240 pounds 6 ft 4 inch tall Gora can punch a 9 pregnant paki girl and break her cervical bone… but we bloody 25 crore slave cannot raise their voice against the fraud…. Taimoor Bhai… jab maro ge to rakhna Apko bhi Apki Family ne issi qabar mein hai….

          You are absolutely right that violence is not the solution… but where is our beloved Niazi sarkar who promised to hang Zardari and nawaz and bringing back ‘looted money’ and bringing our ‘khoyi hui izzat’ back on every international forum…

  6. My old funds are stuck too, they are saying it’s a temporary freeze and the amount is safe and actually the freeze was to protect balance on cards.
    Btw the money got accumulated coz I just moved to Lahore and couldn’t find any swipe machine who can charge the card and give me money. I heard some people do.it with jazz cash can some one tell me how it works.

  7. Let me explain in Urdu so everyone can easily understand.
    Payoneer per jab payment aati hai to Woh pehle Payoneer account per aur Kuch seconds main card per load ho jati hai.
    Abhi tak jo funds card per load ho chuke the sirf Woh freez hue hain kuin ke Woh funds Payoneer account main sirf show hote hain lukin asal main card per hote hain. Sab online card ki site aise hi kaam kerti hai.
    Ab new funds Jo Payoneer account main ayen ge woh card per load nhe honge kuinke card band ho chuka hai.
    To bhai simple hai na ab? Jo new paise ayen Woh aap bank account ya jazz cash per withdraw kerlo.
    Jo purane funds card per block hain unke lian thora wait kerna hoga.
    Kaam jari rakho aur ab se Payoneer account ki payment jazz cash ya bank main withdraw kro.
    Waise bhi Pakistani atm per Payoneer ka wirecard master card kon sa har jagah chal rha tha.
    Ab fikar na kro aur old paise ke lian preshan bhi na ho . Jo bhi hona hai master card ka Payoneer paise account main hi wapas kre ga.

    • Asif Bhai, matlab Apni haq halal ki kamaai chorh do aur uff tak na karo….

      leikn Apka yeh suggestion both acha laga keh kaam hargiz band na karo aur mazeed payment transfer ke liye ehtiaat karo… thanks

  8. i am using payoneer since 2013 and my online business is heavily relied on payoneer debit card. We should have an alternative payment method. My business is paused since 26 june. i wish if i had alternative payment method. also Pakistan is the largest market for payoneer, but they dont have a call support for Pakistani customers,which they have for many other countries. We have to call their international support number and wait for a very longtime.. no one will use their service if paypal starts it service for Pakistan.

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