Taxi app Free Now is running into trouble in Ireland, with the shadow of the Wirecard AG scandal looming in the backdrop as thousands of drivers across the country go unpaid.
More than 14,000 drivers across the Republic of Ireland have now gone two weeks without having been paid for rides booked through the popular app, The Irish Times reports.
After promising Irish drivers they would get paid over this past week, Free Now, which is owned by German car giants BMW and Daimler, came up empty-handed.
It was the fourth missed payment deadline in the last two weeks, with Free Now saying a “technical problem” at a third-party payment service provider is to blame for the delays, according to the report.
Wirecard, the German digital payments firm that recently collapsed into insolvency amid a criminal probe after $2.2 billion went missing from its balance sheet, is listed as one of the payment processors for Free Now in Ireland, the paper noted.
Former CEO Markus Braun and other top executives have been arrested by German law enforcement officials amid an investigation into “commercial fraud” at the once-fast growing fintech. German authorities are looking into charges of money laundering, market manipulation and balance falsification as well.
Taxi apps in Germany have been caught in the fallout from the Wirecard collapse, the newspaper reported, citing local reports in that country.
At the request of German authorities, Irish police last month raided Wirecard’s Dublin offices.
Free Now did not respond to inquiries from The Irish Times as to whether Wirecard is behind the payment delays to taxi drivers in Ireland.
Free Now told the paper it was resolving the payment problems and instituting an internal fallback plan should the third-party payment processor run into similar problems again.
“We appreciate that this is unacceptable and thank drivers for their patience,” Free Now told the newspaper on Friday (Aug. 14).