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Markets

China Bank Regulator Lists Firms It Says Violated Investor Rules

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China’s banking and insurance regulator for the first time published names of companies that it alleges committed shareholder violations in the industry, warning investors against misbehavior as the sector tries to attract private and foreign capital.

The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission’s list of 38 companies, published on its website Saturday, didn’t identify the banks or insurers they invested in but included a few firms that were previously known as shareholders of troubled Anbang Insurance Group Co.. The violations included illegal connected transactions, seeking illicit gains, exceeding shareholding ceilings without approval and fabricating materials.

Shareholder violations have “seriously affected the stable operations of financial institutions,” the regulator said. “The purpose of the disclosure is to send a signal that shareholder supervision will be further tightened.”

China’s financial regulators have been clamping down on shareholder conduct in the past few years to curb irregularities and financial risks, jailing Anbang’s former chairman for illegal fundraising and injecting state capital to take ownership control in the most high-profile case. The government has also removed foreign-ownership ceilings in banks and insurers as the nation opens up its financial market.

The CBIRC will encourage private investors in banks and insurers, especially those with capital strength and management experience in strategic investments, according to the statement.

— With assistance by Sharon Chen, and Dingmin Zhang

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Markets

Nigerian Central Bank Devalues Naira by 5.3% at Currency Auction

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Nigeria’s central bank devalued the naira at one of its currency auctions, according to people familiar with the matter.

The weakening comes after Governor Godwin Emefiele announced last month that the bank plans to unify its multiple exchange rates to improve the transparency of its currency-management system.

At an auction for importers on Friday, the central bank asked that bids for foreign exchange be made at 380 naira per dollar, compared with 360 previously, the people said, asking not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak to the media. Isaac Okorafor, a spokesman for the central bank, didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone or reply to messages seeking comment.

The bank previously devalued the currency in March, when it adjusted the official peg against the dollar to 360 from 307. There’s another rate for investors and exporters known as the nafex window, which acts as a spot-rate for the naira. The nafex — which has been relatively stable around 388 per dollar since mid-May following a recovery in oil prices — was introduced in 2017 as a way of wooing back foreign investors spooked by an economic crisis, without formally devaluing the currency.

The naira also trades widely in the black market, which Emefiele has said is illegal, and is sold by the regulator to companies and individuals at varying rates.

Investors and the International Monetary Fund have long called for Nigeria to merge its multiple exchange rates, saying the absence of a single rate creates confusion and deters foreign investment.

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World News

Presidents Of Mount Rushmore Look Highly Concerned On New York Daily News Cover

The four presidents carved into the face of Mount Rushmore look extremely concerned on the front page of the New York Daily News’ Saturday edition.

“HAPPY FOURTH?” the tabloid asked alongside the edited image in a dig at President Donald Trump’s Independence Day celebration at South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore National Memorial on Friday night.

“Don in Mt. Rushmore madness,” the newspaper wrote of Trump’s speech, during which he railed against “cancel culture” and “far-left fascism” in front of supporters, many not wearing masks or adhering to social distancing measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

The Daily News has used multiple eye-catching front pages to call out the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic that’s now claimed the lives of more than 130,000 people nationwide.

The paper’s previous covers have called Trump a “bleach bum” for pondering injecting disinfectant to treat COVID-19 (which he later claimed was a sarcastic suggestion), muzzled him with a mask over his refusal to wear one in public and given him bunny ears over his plan to reopen the economy by Easter.

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World News

Donald Trump’s ‘Put The Wrong Person In Office’ Warning Used Against Him In New Ads

President Donald Trump’s warning this week against putting “the wrong person in office” has already come back to haunt him in the form of two attack ads.

“You put the wrong person in office, you’ll see things that you would not have believed are possible,” Trump cautioned about the economy at the “Spirit of America” business showcase event at the White House on Thursday.

Trump’s rhetoric was turned against him in spots released separately Friday by presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign and the progressive PAC MeidasTouch.

Both ads brought to attention the Trump administration’s fumbled handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with new cases spiking in multiple states, and the president’s vitriolic rhetoric about anti-racism protests that spread nationwide following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

The MeidasTouch ad also asked viewers to declare independence from Trump this Fourth of July:

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World News

Mortgage free: Homeowner reveals how they paid off mortgage at 47

Mortgage free status is celebrated as a significant achievement, particularly as the debt is very difficult to meet. However, many people aspire to own their own home, and are looking for the best ways in which to do so. A mortgage loan is secured against the value of a home until it is repaid over a number of years.

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Traditionally, this term usually stands at 25 years or more, with regular payments expected to meet the goal.

For this reason, most Britons spend the majority of their adult lives paying off their mortgage.

But for one forward-thinking homeowner, the plan to become mortgage free was a journey he wished to embark upon sooner rather than later.

While some are happy to spread the cost of their repayment, this homeowner was keen to pay off the mortgage as soon as possible.

Taking to the website Reddit just last year, the user revealed their homeownership journey.

The savvy mortgage free saver stated they are 47, married, with two teenage children.

Aside from their mortgage, they had put aside £250,000 in a private person pot while working in a high demand industry. 

The value of their home was £700,000, and they aimed to pay the remaining £193,000 of their mortgage arrangement over four years. 

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They wrote: “I put every bonus and savings into the mortgage for the last four years.

“I do not live frugally, I spent £20k on a holiday last year, but I drive a modest car and try to be careful on unneeded expenditure.

“I became addicted to paying off the mortgage and tracking in spreadsheets.

“I largely lived without an emergency fund, and when emergencies did come, I’d either use some of my mortgage money or take short loans with my bank at around £5,000 which was paid back without accruing much interest.

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“Why did I pay off my mortgage and not invest with a higher return? I equate the stock market with gambling and I do not like it one bit.

“Also I don’t know how much longer I will earn this kind of money, mortgage free seemed like a good idea. I wanted flexibility and peace of mind.”

The fortunate homeowner is now planning for the future.

They now hope to spend some money on property, followed by building extra cash towards eventual retirement. 

Britons can plan to pay off their mortgage in several ways.

Perhaps the most popular option is overpayment, where each monthly payment is higher.

However, it is important to be aware of charges which may be incurred through this method. 

Mortgage terms can also be shortened, however, this means increased payments over a shorter period of time.

Britons are encouraged to check their financial capability before making any steps to pay off a mortgage earlier than the standard term. 

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World News

Why an early exec quit unicorn food delivery startup Deliveroo to launch a food business in the middle of a pandemic

  • A former Deliveroo exec has launched a market food hall startup in the middle of COVID-19.
  • Dan Warne was managing director of the unicorn startup until 2019, but has now launched Sessions Market as a community food hall concept to rejuvenate UK towns after the pandemic.
  • Warne says he hopes to bring his experience from Deliveroo, particularly about customer behavior, to the analogue world of food halls.
  • The first venue, Shelter Hall on Brighton seafront, launches July 4.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

On Saturday, the UK's bars, restaurants, and cinemas will fling their doors open to customers for the first time since a strict lockdown commenced in late March.

Given continued public health concerns around the coronavirus pandemic, it might be unwise to open a new food business right now.

But Dan Warne, a former high-level executive at British unicorn startup Deliveroo, has launched Sessions Market, a series of community-orientated food halls that will try to regenerate the UK's town centers. 

Warne joined delivery startup Deliveroo in 2014 as its twelfth employee, and he left in 2019. His job was to help scale the company, which was then only operating in the central part of London.

Over the five years Warne spent as Deliveroo's managing director, he helped to grow the startup into a tech unicorn worth billions. Deliveroo in 2019 raised $575 million in a funding round led by Amazon, and one source close to the food delivery startup estimates its valuation at more than $3 billion.

"From the moment I joined Deliveroo, I saw that as a stepping stone so ultimately being able to launch my own thing and that's this," said Warne. "There are lots of parallels to Deliveroo … It's a platform, albeit a physical one, but it's a platform that has to choose the very best restaurants and manage those restaurants in the right way."

Sessions Market's first venue, Brighton's Shelter Hall, is opening on July 4 and will bring together local restaurants to provide an upmarket dining experience.

Sessions will provide all the digital and capital infrastructure in exchange for a commission, so that the restaurants don't have to invest anything upfront. To comply with social distancing measures, customers will be able to order takeaway food from outside via an app, or served at the tables inside by staff. 

Having launched Deliveroo's Editions business — a network of delivery-only kitchens — in 2017, Warne understood the restaurant market and was well-versed in the capital infrastructure investments needed to build venues like Shelter Hall. But, launching a food hall has been a new experience.

"There is an incredible amount to learn in a short period of time … so we've had to bring in the right experience and the right staff in those areas," said Warne. "On the flip side of that, [coming from a different area], you bring perhaps a different perspective to the industry and you can apply some of the learnings that you get from working in the technology business to a bricks-and-mortar style business."

He hopes to leverage his experience of customer data at Deliveroo, bring a digital twist to the otherwise still-analogue food industry.

"We obsessed about customer data at Deliveroo," said Warne. In the restaurant industry, "of course they're obsessed by the customer, but they don't have the data to really model that customer behavior in quite the same way".

Warne wants to change that.

He hopes to track customers on the platform — from how they were acquired to what, where, and how they consume.

Over time, he believes this will help the startup evolve to reflect what customers want. That's why Warne tells investors he doesn't need to know what a food hall will look like in five years' time — often a question put to founders about their sector by venture capitalists.

"I don't need to know that because I'm going to enable this business with technology that affords me a deep understanding of consumer trends," he said. "I will flex it and move it with those trends in the same way that Netflix will serve the content before you really know that you want it."

He also hopes his experience helping to grow Deliveroo into a unicorn tech platform will help him to scale his new startup. 

"It's harder to figure out precisely how to scale it in the tech kind of way, where you don't need to be finding property," said Warne.

Warne plans to lease the Sessions brand out to third-party venues, in a similar way to successful pop-up gig startup Sofar Sounds. He likened this to Deliveroo, Uber Eats, and restaurants creating virtual restaurant brands that only serve delivery apps.

He said: "If you come up with brands that you want to run virtually across multiple different kitchens across the country, it helps if you can test them in front of a consumer in a live environment, which is something that we have." 

At a time when a lot of the hospitality industry is struggling, Warne hopes a venue that provides the necessary digital infrastructure to comply with social distancing measures and allows restaurants to avoid long-term lease arrangement will have a clear appeal.

"It's a model that's very well conditioned to this environment: it is highly supportive and conducive to helping some of these businesses get back on their feet," said Warne. "If you are concerned about keeping a distance from others, well you can order through our technology outside and just have it come to a window and pick it up and eat it on the beach a long way from anyone else."

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Business

Kenya Airways Begins Job Cuts Amid Nationalization, Virus Losses

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Kenya Airways Plc started a three-month round of job cuts as lawmakers debate a bill to nationalize the carrier and its losses mount due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The process is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka said July 3 in a memo to employees, without providing the number of workers to be affected. When domestic flights resume, depressed demand for air travel will cut the number of workers needed for operations and some employees will proceed on unpaid leave from July 6, according to the memo.

“We have projected that demand is going to slow down to at least 50% between now and December,” Kilavuka said in a June 26 interview. “Our assets need to reflect that. Our operations need to reflect that, that goes without saying.”

The airline employed 3,734 people by end 2019, with a total wage bill of 13.5 billion shillings ($126.6 million). That accounted for 11% of the airline’s total operating costs in the year, according to its annual report. Passenger flights accounted for 81% of the airline’s revenue by the end of 2019, compared to 6.8% from cargo.

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With the Kenyan airspace closed to most commercial passenger traffic since March, Kenya Airways estimates it will lose between $400 million and $500 million in revenue by the end of this year. If flights do not resume in July, the estimated losses will rise by at least 50%, Kilavuka said last month. In the interim, the airline’s freight business has been moving 800 tons to 1,000 tons each week. Freight traffic in 2019 was just under 176 tons daily, nearly 19% higher than current levels.

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World News

Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle tests positive for COVID-19

  • Former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle has tested positive for COVID-19, multiple media outlets reported.
  • Guilfoyle is currently dating President Donald Trump's eldest son Donald Trump Jr. and is a frequent surrogate and senior adviser for the Trump 2020 campaign.
  • Guilfoyle reportedly tested positive in South Dakota before she was slated to attend Trump's Independence Day fireworks celebration at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. She is currently self-isolating and will cancel all upcoming events.
  • Trump Jr. has tested negative for the disease but will self-isolate and cancel scheduled events as well as a precautionary measure.
  • The former Fox News host tested positive for coronavirus after attending two Trump rallies in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Phoenix, Arizona, both of which had no social distancing or mask requirements.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, the former Fox News host and a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a person familiar with her condition told The New York Times.

Guilfoyle is currently dating President Donald Trump's eldest son Donald Trump Jr. and is a frequent surrogate for the president on the 2020 campaign trail. She is also the national chairwoman of the Trump Victory Finance Committee and oversees fundraising for the president's reelection campaign.

CNN reported that Guilfoyle tested positive in South Dakota before she was slated to attend Trump's Independence Day fireworks celebration at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. According to The Times, Guilfoyle and Trump Jr. did not travel on Air Force One, and she was reportedly the only person in the group who tested positive.

"After testing positive, Kimberly was immediately isolated to limit any exposure," Sergio Gor, the chief of staff for the Trump Victory Finance Committee, told CNN. "She's doing well, and will be retested to ensure the diagnosis is correct since she's asymptomatic, but as a precaution will cancel all upcoming events."

Gor added that Trump Jr. has tested negative for the disease but is self isolating and also canceling all public events as a precautionary measure.

A source told CNN that Guilfoyle has not recently been in contact with the president, but she attended his rally last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she stood backstage. She was also in Phoenix, Arizona, for Trump's event with Students for Trump. Both events were indoors, there was no social distancing, and masks were not required.

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World News

Universal Credit UK: Britons could qualify for extra payment in these circumstances

Universal Credit is currently administered and issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Eligible claimants can expect to receive their benefit entitlement once every four weeks, and can check their claim through the government’s online portal. Under the current rules, Universal Credit is split into two main tiers.

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All Universal Credit claimants will be entitled first to a standard allowance, which is based on a person’s age and relationship status.

Those who are single and under 25 are entitled to £342.72.

But single people who are over the age of 25 are likely to be entitled to £409.89 in Universal Credit.

People in a couple under 25 get £488.59 to split between them and couples over 25 could receive £594.04.

However, the second potential element of Universal Credit is additional amounts payable to certain Britons.

This part of Universal Credit varies the entitlement amount from person to person, and so it is important to check the money to which a person could be entitled.

The first additional payment is for those who are currently raising children in the UK. 

If a person has one or two children they will receive an extra amount for each child, but those with three or more children will get an extra amount for at least two children.

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This extra amount is only the case if their children were born before April 6, 2017, or more than three children were already being claimed for before April 6, 2017.

A first child born before April 6, 2017 can receive £281.25, but for first children born on or after this date, the amount decreases to £235.83.

Any other children will entitle a claimant to £235.83 per child. 

And extra help is provided for those who have disabled or severely disabled children with an extra monthly payment of £128.25 or £400.29 dependent on circumstance. 

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Another factor which may also entitle people to an additional payment is having a disability or health condition.

The government varies this amount dependent on the person’s capability to work.

Those with a limited capability for work and work-related activity could get £341.92.

And those who care for someone who is severely disabled will also be provided with additional financial assistance.

If someone provides care for at least 35 hours a week for a person who is currently receiving a disability-related benefit, they can receive £162.92 per month.

This is, on top of any extra amount a person gets if they have a disabled child.

There is also help available for those who need assistance with housing costs, but once again this is dependent on circumstances. 

To be eligible to receive Universal Credit, Britons must fit a particular criteria.

They must be over the age of 18, but under State Pension age, live in the UK, and have £16,000 or less in savings. 

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Economy

Banking apps: what do they offer – and how is your cash protected?

When the Financial Conduct Authority ordered the UK arm of payments firm Wirecard to freeze customer funds, hundreds of thousands of people who had probably never even heard of the company suddenly found they could not access their cash.

Customers of several UK banking and payment services, including FairFX, Pockit, U Account and Anna Money, were told that their money was caught up in the regulator’s action against the firm, leaving some unable to buy food or pay bills.

Normal service was resumed on Tuesday but the events of last weekend have thrown a spotlight on the financial technology sector, which includes a number of major players offering bank-style products such as Revolut, Curve and gohenry.

Many of these usually smartphone-based services are aimed at the millions of people who the traditional banks either do not want or struggle to cater for, such as those with a poor credit history or who have just arrived in the UK.

Most of the players offering such bank-style accounts are not actually banks – typically they are e-money institutions, which are not covered by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This puts them into a different category to companies such as Monzo, Starling, Tandem and Atom, which are all fully-fledged banks offering FSCS protection up to £85,000.

There are lots of UK firms in this market that do not use Wirecard and were therefore unaffected. However, some of them piggyback on other third-party companies, which often provide their accounts or payment cards for them.

Revolut

What is it? Launched in 2015, it claims to have 3 million UK customers, and more than 12 million globally. It offers a bank-style account with a debit card, plus various other services, and is popular with people who frequently spend and send money abroad.

It says the majority of its customers are serviced via Revolut Ltd, an authorised e-money institution based in London.

What does it offer? There are three plans available. The standard option has no monthly subscription and lets you withdraw up to £200 a month from ATMs before fees are applied. You can also spend abroad in more than 150 currencies at the interbank exchange rate. Then there are the Premium and Metal plans at £6.99 and £12.99 a month respectively. These offer higher limits on withdrawals and other services including some travel cover and accounts for kids.

How is people’s money protected? In terms of the UK, it says customer funds are securely held in ringfenced accounts with “a tier one UK bank”. Revolut said in December that it intended to acquire a UK banking licence in the future. If and when that does happen, it would be covered by the FSCS.

Curve

What is it? A service allowing people to spend from any of their accounts using only one card. You add your eligible Mastercard or Visa debit and credit cards to the Curve app and then spend using your Curve card.

Launched in 2015, Curve says it has 1.3 million customers across Europe. It was one of the companies caught up in the Wirecard incident. Curve’s cards were suspended for two or three days because it relied on Wirecard for its financial transactions – but it was already well on the way to migrating to its own systems and this process was completed a few days ago. Curve cards and e-money are now issued by Curve OS, an authorised e-money institution based in London.

What does it offer? There are three plans available. Curve Blue has no monthly subscription and comes with some perks, including an introductory cashback offer and some fee-free foreign ATM withdrawals, and there are also £9.99 a month and £14.99 a month options with extra benefits, including travel insurance.

There is no money stored in your Curve account, so it is not a pre-paid card. You select the account you would like to pay with by tapping the related payment card in the app.

How is people’s money protected? Curve says: “We have a safeguarding account that means there is a pot of money separate from the company’s money, should anything happen to us as a business.”

Monese

What is it? Launched in 2015 and initially targeting “unbanked, expat and immigrant consumers”, it claims to have more than 2.5 million people signed up in the UK and across Europe. It offers a bank-style account that comes with a debit card.

Monese says it is a registered agent of PrePay Technologies, a London-based authorised e-money institution. (For EU customers, it is a different e-money institution: a Belgian company called PPS EU SA, authorised by the National Bank of Belgium.)

What does it offer? There are three plans available. Simple has no monthly subscription (you pay £4.95 for your card to be delivered) and lets you withdraw up to £200 a month from ATMs before fees are applied. Plus, there is £2,000 a month of “free” foreign currency card spending. There is also a Classic option for £5.95 a month and a Premium one for £14.95 a month.

How is people’s money protected? Monese told us it has to keep all customer money separate to its own company finances. “This guarantees that even in the unlikely event that Monese is no longer in business, all of our customers would receive 100% of their balance back.”

gohenry

What is it? A prepaid card and app with parental controls for young people aged six to 18. It counts as an e-money product. Founded by a group of parents in 2012, gohenry boasts more than 900,000 customers in the UK (it also operates in the US).

It works with two companies that help provide its services. Its cards are issued by IDT Financial Services, a Gibraltar-based bank regulated in the territory. It also works with Adyen, a Dutch-based payments firm that obtained a European banking licence in 2017 and whose customers include Facebook and Uber.

What does it offer? It is a pre-paid card that lets children spend money with retailers where they cannot pay cash. Parents can top up their child’s card and set spending rules, so they stay in control. They can decide where the card can be used – in shops, online or at cash machines – and are notified when and where their child is spending. It costs £2.99 a child each month, although you can join free for one month.

How is people’s money protected? It says customers’ money is ringfenced and held in a secure NatWest account. It told us: “Should IDT Financial Services go out of business, both Visa and the regulator [in Gibraltar] would step in to protect customer funds and ensure they are returned to customers.”

Cashplus

What is it? Set up in 2005, it offers personal and business current accounts, and says that since launch it has had more than 1.6 million customers. Its personal account offers a debit card.

What does it offer? It claims to be “like a bank account, just better” and offers things such as payment alerts, where you are notified if a direct debit is due and you do not have enough cash ready to pay it, and a Creditbuilder plan that helps you build up your credit score when you pay the monthly fee. You can pay cash in at any post office. There are three pricing plans where the monthly fee varies from zero to £9.95. Everyone pays a £5.95 card issue fee. The option with no monthly fee, Flexiplus, has charges for various things, such as 99p for each UK purchase and direct debit, and £2 for UK ATM withdrawals.

How is people’s money protected? It is an authorised e-money institution with an e-money licence, although it says it is in the final stages of applying to become a bank, at which point it would be covered by the FSCS. It says customers’ money is held in a safeguarded bank account held by a major UK bank.

Thinkmoney

What is it? A digital banking service that went live in 2001 and offers a current account with a debit card, plus loan options. It says it has “helped thousands of people pay their bills on time, avoid late payment charges and improve their credit score”. It is an authorised e-money institution.

What does it offer? With this account, money for regular payments is held separately so they are paid on time and any cash not needed for bills is then available to spend. It promises no fees if it refuses a payment because of a lack of funds – for example, if a direct debit bounces. However, its standard monthly fee is £10.

How is people’s money protected? It says customers’ cash is held in a separate safeguarded Royal Bank of Scotland account. It adds that its cards are directly issued by Think Money Ltd, so it is not reliant on another company.

Are you covered by a compensation scheme?

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protects your money up to £85,000 for all banks, building societies and credit unions that are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Some firms may be authorised and appear on the FCA’s financial services register but if they are not a bank, building society or credit union, they are not covered by the compensation scheme.

For example, the FSCS does not protect people if they have money in an electronic money – or e-money – firm or payment services company and it goes bust. Electronic money (including prepaid cards) is considered a method of payment, not a deposit held by a bank or building society, so it is not covered by the FSCS.

The FCA says e-money institutions have to safeguard customers’ money – this means they must either keep it separate from their own cash, ie in a separate bank account, or protect it with an insurance policy or comparable guarantee. “This should mean that if that company becomes insolvent, you get most of your money back,” it says.

However, the FCA warns that it could take longer to be refunded than if your money was in a bank and some costs are likely to be deducted by the administrator or liquidator of the insolvent company.

You can check if a firm is an e-money firm or payment services business by searching the financial services register.

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