Of what use is Barter by Flutterwave without its virtual USD cards? That is one of the many questions thousands of users will be left scratching their heads with, this morning, as they wake up to an email from the African payment unicorn announcing the shutdown of the virtual card services on its Barter app.
“We are writing to inform you that effective Sunday, 17th July 2022, all our Virtual Dollar cards will be unavailable for any transactions and purchases. This is due to an update from our card partner, which will cause the card service to be unavailable for an extended period of time,” the email communication to customers on Friday morning stated.
Below is a breakdown of the implication of this announcement:
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- You will be unable to make online and in-store payments and purchases using Virtual Dollar Card(s).
- You will be unable to fund existing Virtual Dollar Card(s).
- Your existing Virtual Dollar Card(s) will be terminated, and the corresponding balance will be credited to your payment balance.
- You will be unable to create new Virtual Dollar Card(s).
“We recommend that you unlink your Dollar Card(s) from any recurring payments, and replace with another payment method. Download your card statement immediately for future reference,” Flutterwave said.
Why Did This Happen?
Flutterwave did not state in the email communication why it took this decision. However, over the past few weeks the Barter services had suffered major disruptions in services as payment processing partners continued to decline Barter USD cards and customers using the Barter cards had been unable to pay for digital services.
It is also highly likely that its major card partners are pulling out in connection with the startup’s recent scandals involving corruption and money laundering allegations in Kenya, where the Kenyan authorities had frozen its financial assets valued at $56.7 million (6.7 billion Kenyan shillings).
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Flutterwave and seven other firms have been accused of conducting suspicious transactions and failing to comply with financial regulations in the east African country, according to Nairobi’s The Star newspaper.
These allegations are also coming barely three months after investigative journalist David Hundeyin opened a Pandora’s box for the African unicorn in this report, alleging fraud, sexual harassment, perjury and insider trading, etc. Flutterwave has yet to respond to the allegations.
This development will come as a shock to many, especially to those who had come to rely on the Barter card services as Nigeria’s foreign exchange shortages continue to worsen, forcing the Banks to impose spending limits on USD cards.
This decision, may also likely complicate the country’s foreign exchange woes as more people, for lack of options, would then be forced to rely on the black market to meet foreign exchange demands for basic services such as app subscriptions.