Many Compass customers initially thought an email to notify them of the pending shutdown purported to have been sent by the company was fake and thought to have been sent by a mischievous bot, but after visiting the company, was confronted with the jarring news.
The email notifies that the operators of the international entity took the decision to shutdown, without giving further details, only saying it was a global business decision.
The email informed that Compass would halt topping up cards on September 2, with the company shutting down for good on September 23.
“Unfortunately, due to a global business decision, the Compass Card is ending its life soon,” the email stated. “Deposits at our office will be available until 2nd September 2022. For regular purchases and ATM withdrawals, your card will be working until 23rd September 2022.”
The company said customers who are desirous of having the money on their cards refunded should visit the office on weekdays to make such request.
“In case you decide to have your balance refunded, you can request your cancellation in person at any time from now at our office (Monday to Friday - 8:30 am to 4 pm). We apologize for any inconvenience that this action may cause. If you have any questions, please call us on (649) 941 5191,” the email further stated.
The Compass prepaid Mastercard has been seen by many as a preferred way to manage their funds, since it allows the holder to spend whatever amount they deposited, as against credit cards that leave them with a bill at the end of the month.
Many of the Compass cardholders, who NEWSLINETCI spoke with, said they also had cards linked to their accounts at the commercial banks. However, they are timid about the idea of regularly using those cards to conduct business transactions for a number of reasons, including not wanting to deplete their savings, and skeptical of fraudsters gaining access to their accounts if they use them frequently to conduct business.
“No matter how many layers of security you put in place against online fraudsters, they will break through them…that is their job. And so, I am not comfortable with doing online transaction directly from my bank account. I think that is a disaster waiting to happen,” one Compass customer said.
Many Turks and Caicos Islands residents also rely on Compass prepaid card to pay for tuitions on their children’s behalf, who are abroad studying. They said the shutting down of the company would cripple their abilities to pay those tuitions and to offset other obligations.
“I am now on the hunt to see whether there is another prepaid card company I the Turks and Caicos, so I can sign up as early as possible,” said another Compass prepaid card holder.
The impending shutdown marks the second time in about four years that the prepaid card company was running into trouble. The then Hallmark Trust’s prepaid card service was withdrawn in the TCI in October 2018, after Mastercard suspended its services with the company.
It is not clear what the case is this time around as efforts to reach the managing director, Linnell Deczka proved futile, as we were told on Thursday, September 1, on the two occasions called, that he was not in.
During the suspended Mastercard service period in 2008, the Hallmark Compass prepaid cards remained operational but additional funds were barred from being added to accounts.
In November 2018, the Turks and Caicos Islands Supreme Court appointed Joseph Connolly to administer the affairs of Hallmark Trust.
As administrator, he assumed control of the management of the entity, with the objective of protecting the interests of all stakeholders, such as cardholders, trust beneficiaries, creditors, and shareholders.
Connolly, a chartered accountant with over 30 years’, worked to restore service, enabling Turks and Caicos Islands’ residents to access an international payment network portal that the Compass card enables.