Last week, legal action opened in the Nanterre court against the neobank N26 after the class action of several of its customers. In question: the untimely closing of their account, without warning or return of funds. An “abuse” which concerns other establishments.
Alongside Lydia, which is also one of the fintechs concerned by these conducts, N26 customers will be able to obtain recourse if they follow the advice in this article, in collaboration with the Center Européen des Consommateurs France, a service co-financed by the European Union and dedicated to helping consumers settle their disputes with European professionals.
Blocking accounts: but why?
Before reviewing these actions to adopt, let's recall the facts. In Europe, fintechs such as neobanks are shared. On the one hand, it aims to achieve hypergrowth by expanding their customer base a little more every day. N26 weighs as big as the best online banks thanks to a very aggressive customer acquisition policy.
But on the other side, regulators are warning them to be careful about customers who might take advantage of their services for money laundering or terrorist financing activities. To avoid this, fintechs must know their customers and add security steps at the time of registration and analysis tools to detect any malicious use of accounts.
In Germany, the BaFin (the financial regulator) judged the neobank N26 that it had not been strict enough between 2019 and 2020 and allowed money laundering activities to pass. This led him to have to pay a fine of 4.25 million euros and limit his growth to less than 70,000 new customers per month (compared to a rate of 170,000 without restriction).
Therefore, N26 has become all the more strict. The neobank closed a significant number of accounts and suspended them altogether. Many of the customers concerned do not understand this, as N26 would not give any proof or warning, where the law orders customers to be informed two months in advance before the effective date of the closure of their account. Worse, many of them warn that they have never recovered all of their funds.
In early 2022, the comments made in the press were formed around a class action. The plaintiffs' lawyer, quoted by RMC in January, said: "We have never seen a bank, on its own, block money in a totally random and unjustified way, money that belongs to people who need it to live on a daily basis. N26 will have to answer before a French judge for these untimely blockages”.
The right things to do
To respond to victims who have lost their account and funds, or for all other fintech customers who have had their account suspended despite having provided the requested supporting documents on time, here are several actions to take in an attempt to get an appeal.
The first: call on a mediator. As the European Consumer Center France reminds us, Europe has required since 2015 that any consumer sector in the EU offers mediators to resolve disputes of this type. A special platform exists to find out which mediator to turn to.
The second possibility: for complaints about financial services, it is possible to go through a form on the financial dispute resolution network FIN-NET.
The third possibility (the one chosen by several N26 clients): call on a lawyer to consider legal action.
Note that if you use a lesser-known financial or banking service, and the latter asks you for personal information, it is advisable to check with the official list of players subject to the customer identification obligation in Europe. in the monetary and financial code, to find out if it is part of it. Many may take advantage of this need to obtain personal customer information to abuse it and request information that is not required.
In case of doubt or suspicion of a phishing campaign, contact the establishment. And if you need to recover your funds if your account is closed, provide your IBAN and BIC (be careful, do not provide the RIB of a pro account, only personal accounts are accepted).