Fintech – Simplified procedure to recover erroneously transferred funds through payment service providers

Fintech – Simplified procedure to recover erroneously transferred funds through payment service providers

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In an ongoing commitment to safeguard consumers of payment services, foster trust in the use of payment accounts, and facilitate real-time instant transfers, the Central Bank of CEMAC Member States (Cameroon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Central African Republic, and the Republic of the Congo), has recently issued a Circular Letter outlining the process of reclaiming funds erroneously transferred through Payment Service Providers (PSP) in the CEMAC zone. 

This Circular Letter introduces additional responsibilities for payment service providers, aiming to simplify the previously complex procedure for seeking restitution of funds sent to the wrong recipient, whether mistakenly or not. 

Previously, the process to reclaim funds erroneously transferred required the sender to report the issue to the payment service provider to freeze the account and after that obtain a court order before the frozen funds could be released. This often left the wrong recipient with the ability to swiftly withdraw the mistakenly transferred sums, leaving the sender with no immediate recourse.

The Circular Letter introduces an innovative approach to reporting erroneous or fraudulent transactions and establishes a more efficient out-of-court procedure for recovering funds. This update is designed to enhance consumer protection, bolster confidence in payment services, and ensure the irrevocability of instant payment orders within the CEMAC zone.

I- New Obligations for Payment Service Providers

  1. Telephony-based payment service providers must create a dedicated menu on their USSD System or Mobile Applications for requesting the restitution of funds transferred to an unintended recipient.

  2. Telephony-based payment service providers must refrain from releasing the sums credited to the recipient’s account until five (5) minutes after the credit notification.

II- Restitution Procedure

1. Initiating the Restitution Request

  • The sender must initiate the restitution request within five (5) minutes of the transfer through the designated menu provided by the telephony-based payment services provider.

  • The telephony-based payment services provider must promptly communicate this request to the counterpart Payment Service Provider, account holder for the unintended recipient.

2. Freezing and Informing

Upon receiving the restitution request, the telephony-based payment services provider and account holder of the unintended recipient must immediately freeze, immobilize, and make unavailable the disputed funds. They must also inform the sender of the restitution request.

3. Acceptance of Restitution

  • If the unintended recipient accepts the restitution request, the request becomes a payment order, which the unintended recipient’s telephony-based payment services provider must promptly execute.

  • Absence of a response within 24 hours (transfers and merchant payments) or 48 hours (other transfers) implies acceptance and triggers the return of funds to the ordering/requesting party.

4. Dispute Resolution

In case of disputes, the funds remain frozen, and the sender may initiate legal action. Notification of refusal to return the funds serves as evidence or supporting documentation for potential legal actions.

Assistance to Payment Service Providers

Our team can assist Payment Service Providers with reviewing and modifying their general terms and conditions of the cardholder contracts and merchant/acceptance contracts for their payment cards or electronic wallets to incorporate the procedure for requesting the restitution of erroneously transferred funds.

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Epanty Mbanda

Attorney-at-law | Corporate-Commercial | Technology (FinTech+Blockchain+Cryptocurrency) | Securities | Tax| Managing Partner at 4M Legal and Tax ( Law Firm in Cameroon)

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