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04-04-2017, 20:29   #1
Yggr of Asgard
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Leapcard not taking Non-Irish Bank accounts for Auto Top Up Feature by Direct Debit

Breaking this out from an N26 thread for further discussions.

Summary:
Leapcard is refusing to accept non-irish bank account for direct debits as part of the auto top up feature with several excuses despite SEPA now being in force since August 2014.

What has been tried:
  • Complaints to the National Transport Authority (unsuccessfully see below)

  • Complaints to The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) which takes the complaint but does not deal with individual complaints nor will it provide an outcome back to individual

  • Complaints via SOLVIT (an EU forum that deals with breaches of EU rules by Government bodies) currently waiting for the Irish Department of Enterprise to provide feedback to the relevant authorities. The French & German SOLVIT services are involved but the Irish SOLVIT so far has not responded despite being out of the agreed time frames.

  • Complaints to the responsible Directorate in the European Commission (Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union)


Latest Response from NTA about this (to jasongoodbody):

Quote:
Many thanks for your query and apologies for the delay in response. I wanted to ensure that NTA provided a comprehensive answer to your query.

It is the case that while we at all times endeavour to comply with the rules governing the areas in which we operate, there are significant technical challenges that are preventing NTA from complying with specific SEPA rules at this time. I also wish to put this answer in the context of our obligations under the legislation which governs the NTA, and in particular one of our core objectives which is to provide value for money. With this in mind when you had previously contacted us regarding the issue of allowing Direct Debits from non Irish Bank accounts, the matter had been at that point under investigation and consideration for some time and we had hoped to have a more positive answer.

Unfortunately, following consultation with our solution architects and providers we discovered that, as our back-office systems were built some time ago (prior to SEPA), there are existing technical restrictions in our systems which cannot easily accommodate IBANs. Although we have been able to implement a workaround for Irish bank account numbers (by performing a reverse lookup and conversion process on the inputs and outputs) to allow Irish account holders to use their IBAN to sign up for Auto top-up, we cannot use this process for non-Irish IBANs. As a result we have investigated alternative solutions as well as separately investigated converting the entire system to use IBANs. However, to date we have not received a proposal which could satisfy technical, security and financial integrity prerequisites and provide value for money. In fact, the cost for implementing partial solutions was so high as to be prohibitive. Consequently our focus has turned to a complete end-to-end solution. This would require a complete system rebuild and an extensive testing phase, the total cost of which would be substantial. When viewed in light of the very small percentage of customers that it would service, we do not believe that it would be a prudent use of taxpayers’ funds as a standalone development.

Instead as an alternative to auto top-up NTA is providing a mobile phone solution (the Leap Top-Up app) which can be accessed anywhere in the world and can instantaneously reload a Leap card as well as display the recent travel history, balance and ticket information. It works with any Android (v4.4 or later) phone that has NFC. NTA is also hopeful that Apple will allow access to the NFC chip on the latest iPhones in the near future. The growth in use that we have experienced on the Leap top-up app since its launch in January 2016 clearly indicates that there is a greater appetite for an on-demand reload capability that far exceeds the demand for auto top-up. Therefore it is likely that NTA will focus its limited resources in this area until such time as we have the funding to develop the next iteration of the Leap card systems to include the SEPA requirements (likely in conjunction with a number of other enhancements).

To be clear, it is our intention that a new iteration of our back office systems will comply with the SEPA requirements. However, in the absence of confirmed funding NTA cannot define any timeline for this to complete. I appreciate that this is not the answer that you are looking for, but it is simply the case that since we have an alternative available (the Leap Top-Up app), and given the significant technical challenges necessitating a substantial financial investment, whilst there is limited demand for such auto top-ups, we have to make the most efficient use of our available resources.
Latest response and Position of the CCPC is that they don't deal with individual complaints and they usual send this mail when complaints are logged:

Quote:
Thank you for your email to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in relation to topping up your leap card via direct debit.

The aim of the Single European Payments Area (SEPA) is to standardise the transfer of electronic payments, for example direct debits and standing orders, across Europe. This means that the cost and process for making payments to any SEPA country is the same as making a payment in Ireland.

The CCPC is the competent authority for the purposes of enforcing Article 9(1) and 9(2) of the SEPA Regulations. Article 9(2) provides that a trader accepting a credit transfer or using a direct debit to collect funds from a consumer holding a payment account located within the Union shall not specify the Member State in which that payment account is to be located, provided that the payment account is in another Member State

We note that you have tried to resolve the issue with the National Transport Authority. We would appreciate if you could send us any additional relevant information, if any, that is available to you on the issue i.e. any further written correspondence between yourself and the National Transport Authority.

We will provide the information to our Consumer Enforcement Division (CED) for information. Our CED examine consumer issues in the context of overall consumer detriment, or loss, and carry out whatever action (if any) is deemed necessary and appropriate. The CCPC is grateful to consumers who take the time to make complaints and highlight areas where there might be detriment however we are not in a position to investigate all complaints. You should also be aware that due to the volume of complaints we receive, it is not possible for us to respond to individual complainants regarding the outcome of analysis of their complaint. We will of course contact consumers if the need arises either in the course of or on completion of an examination.

In the event that CED deem it necessary to contact the relevant body, it is possible that your identity may become apparent to the National Transport Authority in light of your communication. Please also advice whether or not it is acceptable to you that your identity is confirmed in order to resolve the issue if actioned by the CED.

We hope you have found this information useful and if you have any further consumer related queries please do not hesitate to contact us on 1890 432 432 or (01) 4025555.

Last edited by Yggr of Asgard; 04-04-2017 at 20:32.
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05-04-2017, 16:42   #2
Yggr of Asgard
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SOLVIT

So in my case the German SOLVIT people forwarded my case over 2 weeks ago to the Irish Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation.

They were supposed to confirm within 7 days if they would take the case or not, but when I requested an update from the German SOLVIT I was told that there is none.

Has anybody gotten any update from their countries SOLVIT departments, they are now way outside the 7 days deadline.
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05-04-2017, 17:00   #3
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My case was submitted to the Solvit website on 09/03 and routed to France.

The French Solvit centre told me on 17/03 they hard reviewed the case and deemed it valid, and it had therefore been submitted to Solvit Ireland for them to contact the relevant authority.

No news since then (to be fair I haven't followed-up and asked for status either).

I think there are 2 possible explanations for what we are seeing:
1. Solvit Ireland is not too bothered and needs to be pushed a little bit to get things moving.
2. They have indeed talked to the NTA but (assuming they didn't lie in previous communications and their system is not SEPA capable) the NTA is finding itself in a difficult position as they are in breach with the regulation, have no short-term solution to offer, and are trying to come-up with a work-around or an answer which doesn't make them look too bad as since the questions are now coming through EU related channels they can't openly say they are indeed in breach with EU regulations but don't care (as they have been doing in their answer to previous complaints addressed directly to them).

Last edited by Bob24; 05-04-2017 at 22:37.
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06-04-2017, 11:08   #4
Yggr of Asgard
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So the German SOLVIT came back to me (translated from German):

Quote:
Your request was entered into the SOLVIT system on 21 March 2017. SOLVIT Germany follows your opinion that the practice of the NTA is not compliant with EU law and send it to SOLVIT Ireland.

Our colleagues there are currently trying to find a solution for the problem. Further information have so far not been provided, however we will contact them for further updates.
Very disappointing that the Irish SOLVIT is not sticking to the rules but at least the German SOLVIT agrees with me that the NTA is breaking law/regulations.
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06-04-2017, 11:17   #5
Bob24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yggr of Asgard View Post
at least the German SOLVIT agrees with me that the NTA is breaking law/regulations.
Yes I think this is a good news - at least they are not dodging it.

Btw in the original email I got from Solvit it said "SOLVIT aims to find solutions within 10 weeks from the date on which a case is accepted by the lead centre" so based on this I don't think they have broken their SLA yet? (but I know you mentioned a shorter SLA before, so there might be another SLA I have overlooked)
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06-04-2017, 11:25   #6
Yggr of Asgard
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The Lead SOLVIT center (Ireland in this case) should acknowledge the case within 7 days and inform if they are taking the case. That is once the home SOLVIT center (who also has 7 days to determine and acknowledge) have forwarded it.

The 10 weeks you mention are for the resolution and only start from when the Lead SOLVIT acknowledges the case and takes it.

So by not acknowledging the case to the home SOLVIT they effectively are outside the SLA for the acknowledgement and also buying time because the 10 weeks are not yet counting.
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07-04-2017, 09:21   #7
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So I emailed my contact at SOLVIT France yesterday to ask for a status update, and they clearly confirmed that while there is no other update at this stage the case has been accepted by SOLVIT Ireland (which I guess means the 10 weeks have kicked-in).

Last edited by Bob24; 07-04-2017 at 09:25.
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07-04-2017, 19:26   #8
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Lack of resources is not an acceptable excuse for not obeying the law. Well done to those keeping up the efforts!
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08-04-2017, 00:34   #9
Bhangraman
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Submitted my complaint about same to Solvit, thanks for the suggestion! After many contacts with Leap and NTA, I feel they just are deploying delaying tactics at this stage.
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08-04-2017, 08:08   #10
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Will it be taxpayers money spent fixing this? Seems like an awful minor inconvenience to be opening the chequebook for.
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08-04-2017, 08:31   #11
Bob24
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Well to make it short it is a legal requirement the NTA is not fulfilling and which could lead to the Irish gouvernement getting fined more money than it would cost to fix the issue.

And the longer story:

Really the time tax money was wasted on this is when they decided to deploy a non SEPA compliant payment backend in 2011. At the time SEPA compliant systems were available already, and every organisation had been notified years earlier that supporting SEPA direct debits would become a legal requirement in 2014.

Most organisations (private or public) across the EU have been compliant from day 1, so while it is possibly true that as far as the Irish taxpayer is concerned implementing this now is not great value for money, it is required and the blame should really be put on the NTA for previous extremely short sighted decisions.

Last edited by Bob24; 08-04-2017 at 08:35.
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08-04-2017, 08:42   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bhangraman View Post
After many contacts with Leap and NTA, I feel they just are deploying delaying tactics at this stage.
This is exactly what they have being doing since the first time I contacted them in December 2014. Talking to them about this seems like it is a waste of time (except the initial contact which will be the basis for a complaint to SOLVIT)
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08-04-2017, 09:16   #13
Yggr of Asgard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubbaclaus View Post
Will it be taxpayers money spent fixing this? Seems like an awful minor inconvenience to be opening the chequebook for.
You might see this is a minor inconvenience but for those of us who avail of free superior banking solutions from other EU countries this is a major inconvenience.

In addition their current solution is not even correctly handling Direct Debits from Irish Banks as there is conversion back into old sort code/account numbers going on for both entering and the actual direct debit. Major source of a.)compliance and b.)error. Imagine a new bank coming into Ireland (in theory, who really would) which does not have that old codes, those customers also would not be able to use the function either.

In addition an arm of the government is ignoring the law for over 2.5 years now and it's getting away with it. Is it really right that the government can do what ever it want ignoring rules but if I would do they come after me?

The NTA did very well know the requirements for the system when they set it up, SEPA was clearly communicated. They wasted money by implementing a bad system which they had 2.5 years to fix and which they are not.

The regulator in Ireland CCPC does also nothing to address this, one arm of the Government protecting another arm of the government, so it's clearly needed to bring in outside resources.
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03-05-2017, 18:07   #14
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Just came across this thread while reading up on the N26 Bank.

Out of curiosity, has there been any update?
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03-05-2017, 18:11   #15
Bob24
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Not for me ...

I will post here if there are updates.
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