July 11, 2024


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Synapse mess: Banks advance in unlocking $96 million for 100,000 fintech users

Efforts are underway to bring relief to over 100,000 Americans whose savings have been frozen in fintech accounts following the collapse of fintech intermediary Synapse. 

Banks are making significant progress in resolving this financial turmoil, potentially leading to the release of funds within weeks.

Synapse collapse affects over 100,000 customers

Since May, more than 100,000 users of fintech apps like Yotta, Juno, and Copper have been unable to access their funds due to Synapse’s collapse.

This left many customers in a state of financial uncertainty. In response, banks such as Evolve Bank & Trust and Lineage Bank have hired a former Synapse engineer to help unlock the necessary data and restore customer access to their accounts.

Regulators push for swift resolution

The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) have been urging banks to expedite the release of funds.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell emphasized the importance of making funds available to depositors during a Senate Banking Committee meeting.

The involvement of key figures, including Evolve founder and Chairman Scot Lenoir, has provided hope after weeks of stagnation in the resolution process.

Significant issues in banking-as-a-service sector

The collapse of Synapse has exposed significant issues within the “banking-as-a-service” sector. Small banks partnering with unregulated fintech entities like Synapse have failed to manage these relationships adequately.

Regulators have since reprimanded these banks for their shortcomings, highlighting the need for better oversight and management.

Missing customer funds

Initial plans by Evolve Bank to release $46 million from payment processing accounts to fintech customers have been revised.

The bank now believes a more comprehensive reconciliation of customer accounts is possible, although challenges remain.

Up to $96 million owed to customers is still unaccounted for, according to bankruptcy trustee Jelena McWilliams.

The exact shortfall and the approach to dealing with it remain unclear.

Banks and regulators face challenges

Evolve Bank, Lineage Bank, AMG National Trust, and American Bank, along with Synapse’s remnants, must address the shortfall to facilitate repayments.

The FDIC and other regulatory bodies continue to monitor the situation closely. On Wednesday, Evolve Bank responded to inquiries from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), clarifying that while it holds some payment processing funds, deposits from the app Yotta were moved to a network of banks in October 2023.

Long road to recovery for affected customers

The path to resolving this financial debacle has been fraught with challenges. Poor record-keeping and insufficient funds for forensic analysis have hampered efforts to determine the amounts owed to customers. The involvement of a former Synapse engineer has been a critical step forward, yet significant work remains to ensure all affected customers regain access to their funds.

The Synapse trustee and representatives from AMG, American Bank, and Lineage have not commented on the ongoing efforts. Meanwhile, the FDIC declined to provide additional information.

As the investigation and reconciliation process continues, the priority remains clear: to restore access to funds for the thousands of Americans affected by the Synapse collapse. While progress has been made, the ultimate resolution will require coordinated efforts from all parties involved, including regulators, banks, and the remaining Synapse entity.

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