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How to Combat IBAN Discrimination in Europe

According to Article 9 of the SEPA Regulation, your International Bank Account Number (IBAN) must be accepted by all merchants and employers across the European Union no matter which EU country your account has been created in. Yet what really happens is that IBANs from other countries are still rejected by some companies, and that’s what is called IBAN discrimination. Hopefully, you’ll never experience it in real life, but if you do, this guide will provide you with the steps you can take to resolve this issue.

Understanding IBANs

To begin, an IBAN, or International Bank Account Number, is a standardised, internationally recognised system for identifying bank accounts. It consists of a unique alphanumeric code that enables swift and error-free identification of a specific bank account during financial transactions. IBANs are crucial for international payments, ensuring that funds are accurately routed to the intended recipient across borders.

Under the European law, all IBANs in SEPA (the Single Euro Payments Area) must be treated as domestic ones, allowing you to pay and get paid in euros without having to open a separate account in each country where you make transactions. For instance, you can use your CFPS’s IBAN generated in Cyprus to receive your salary in Germany, pay for the gym membership in the Netherlands, and make mortgage payments in Spain.

Reasons behind IBAN rejection

Despite the vital role IBANs play in facilitating global transactions, there are occasions where employers or merchants refuse to accept certain IBANs. Why? Well, they may be unfamiliar with certain country codes, they may have outdated IT systems installed, or they may be even biassed against specific regions or financial institutions. Whatever the reason, you have the right to oppose your IBAN refusal as it is illegal.

What to do if your IBAN is not accepted

  1. Contact the company:

If your IBAN is rejected by an employer or merchant, the first step is to reach out to the company directly. Communicate your concerns and try to explain that the refusal violates the law. Many issues can be resolved through open dialogue and education.

  1. Write a formal letter of complaint:

If contacting the company does not yield results, consider drafting a formal letter of complaint. Clearly outline the situation, emphasising the importance of accepting IBANs and the potential legal consequences of discrimination. Be sure to maintain a professional tone and include any relevant documentation supporting your case.

  1. Contact a regulatory body:

If all else fails, reach out to the relevant regulatory body overseeing financial transactions in the country where your IBAN has been rejected. Report the discriminatory behaviour and provide evidence of the refusal to accept your IBAN such as the company’s written response to your letter of complaint or a screenshot of your communication via the customer support chat. Regulatory bodies are equipped to investigate such matters and enforce compliance with international standards.

  1. Submit a discrimination case on acceptmyiban.org:

A collective effort is essential in fighting against IBAN discrimination. You can make your input by reporting your situation on acceptmyiban.org, a platform created by Wise for EU residents to submit IBAN discrimination cases. The instances gathered through AcceptMyIBAN are registered by the European Central Bank, so this could lead to a systemic change and bring attention to the issue on a larger scale.

IBAN discrimination might be quite an unpleasant experience, but you’re not alone. Taking action, whether it’s talking to the company, filing a complaint, getting regulators involved, or shouting it out on acceptmyiban.org, is how you can fight back. Let’s break down the barriers and make sure everyone’s got a fair shot in the financial game. Just remember you have the law on your side, and you’re helping stop illegal practice.

Posted on November 30, 2023