The non-profit startup Bulletproof Ukraine produces bulletproof vests for volunteers and journalists. Currently, founder Madina Katter can no longer pay outstanding bills. Payment service provider Wise has blocked the company’s business account.
“We do not support transactions related to weapons, military and semi-military goods and services,” reads an email shared on Linkedin by Berlin-based founder Madina Katter. Until recently, the company, founded in February 2022, produced bulletproof vests for volunteers and journalists in Ukraine. According to company data, around 600 bulletproof vests have been sold since March 2022.
The 26-year-old rejects the accusation. Her company does not supply bulletproof vests to the military but only to civilian aid organisations and journalists in Ukraine. “By doing so, we are not fueling the war either, in case some think that,” Katter tells the portal. “People doing humanitarian work in crisis areas need protection. Our bulletproof vests ensure their safety.” In addition, she said, her startup uses so-called background checks to verify whether a person or organisation is who they say they are.
Speaking to ntv.de, a spokesperson for Wise said that deactivating an account is always the result of a thorough internal review. The company takes such decisions seriously and is open to review through an appeals process “to ensure we take a consistent and fair approach.” As a highly regulated financial institution, Wise could not provide further details on individual cases because the financial services provider is bound by regulations that prohibit it from disclosing certain information.