Bankruptcy of neobank Swoon: savers await their money

The Lille-based neobank Swoon, which had won over a large number of customers with its savings account offering a 3% return, went bankrupt this summer. Since then, more than a hundred savers are still waiting to get their money back.

The promise of a savings account paying 3% interest

Created in 2018, Lille-based fintech Swoon had attracted many savers looking for an investment with a more attractive rate of return than the Livret A, set at 0.5%.

The neobank offered a savings account paying 3% interest, based on crowdlending, a form of participative financing that brings together individuals and companies looking for funds.

Swoon granted loans to these small and medium-sized businesses at an interest rate of 5%. Of this 5%, 3% went to the savers and 2% to the neobank. While the investment yielded a higher rate of return than the Livret A passbook savings account, savers were also taking on a significant risk.

At the outset, all was going well, but the health crisis helped to derail the mechanism: money transfer times became longer, and savers, whose anxiety was heightened by the uncertain economic climate, began to want to turn back and recover the sums they had invested. From then on, the neobank was on the road to bankruptcy.

In reality, Swoon's use of the term "livret" was inappropriate. While the fintech was legally entitled to use it, since it is not regulated, it did play on the sense of confidence that the French have in traditional savings accounts such as the Livret A.

However, as the Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution (ACPR) reminded AFP, it is "impossible for a real bank to offer guaranteed, risk-free savings accounts with a remuneration of 3% or more for such a product".

140 customers still awaiting reimbursement

On July 26, 2021, Swoon went into receivership. 3 weeks later, on August 12, the neobank announced the cessation of its retail activities, and closed access to bank accounts, its mobile application and its website.

Since then, savers have had no means of contacting Swoon other than e-mail addresses. They have multiplied their requests for refunds, many of which are still pending. Quentin Haddouche, founder of the Lille-based fintech, told Les Echos newspaper that reimbursing customers was his priority.

At the beginning of September, 300 people were awaiting reimbursement. Today, there are still 140 who have not recovered the sums invested, representing a total of several hundred thousand euros.

Important point: it's not Swoon that has to reimburse customers, but the company Financière de Garantie, to which the Swoon brand is backed. Both companies were founded by Quentin Haddouche, who confirmed to MoneyVox in early September that Financière de Garantie, a licensed intermediary in banking and payment services (IOBSP), was indeed the company responsible for reimbursing customers.

In this interview, Quentin Haddouche was very vague about repayment times, declaring: "Not 10 years, but not 10 days either". For the company to be able to return the sums invested to savers, it has to wait for the companies to which loans have been granted to gradually repay their debts, which explains the slowness of the procedure.

Some customers do not rule out going to court if their money is not returned in time.