Accept My IBAN: over 1000 cases of IBAN discrimination

Wise
15.10.21
2 minute read

Any company or provider is legally required to accept your IBAN, regardless of the EU country it’s originally from.

IBAN (International Bank Account Number) discrimination is a practice that occurs when a bank, merchant or public body refuses to accept non-local IBANs. For example, when a French telecoms provider refuses to accept an IBAN that doesn’t start with FR (the country code for France).

This is against European law. IBANs should be accepted anywhere regardless of the EU country they’re from, but it continues to affect people in the EU on a daily basis - in fact, there have been more than 1000 reports submitted by consumers and businesses via Accept My IBAN. This coalition spearheaded by Wise is fighting to put an end to this practice by showing the true scale of the problem.

Help us end IBAN discrimination.

Initially launched on World Consumer Rights Day (15 March) this initiative brought together a range of businesses, including banks, financial technology companies and even the e-Residency of Estonia programme. The companies represent millions of consumers and businesses across the EU who live and work internationally and have experienced financial friction. Today, our coalition consist of more than 20 organisations, and we’re welcoming more to join us to end IBAN discrimination across Europe.

All consumer reports of IBAN discrimination submitted via the form on the Accept My IBAN website will be shared with the European Commission, who will use this data as additional insights to make sure countries comply with the law. The European Commission has already launched infringement procedures against Member States and are still ongoing. The Commission has the ability to hold national competent authorities - who are primarily responsible for ensuring IBAN discrimination doesn’t happen - accountable.

Initial results from 15 March - 15 August 2021 via Accept My IBAN
We’ve received more than 1000 reports via Accept My IBAN. France accounts for over 40% of IBAN discrimination cases, while Spain and Germany each make up around 15% of cases. While a sad milestone, ending this practice will ultimately help millions of consumers and businesses across the EU who live and work internationally to pay and get paid using their local IBAN without hassle.


Across the EU, telecoms providers and the public sector are among the biggest offenders.
Tax authorities in EU countries such as France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands have been reported among consumer complaints of IBAN discrimination. Discrimination by public institutions is particularly worrying and can be found even at the highest levels: in July 2021, following public pressure, the European Parliament had to roll back its decision to only allow salaries to be paid out to local (Belgian) bank accounts.

Consistently, public tax authorities seem to make it hard for consumers to pay or get paid using a non-local IBAN, especially those in Spain and France. But more worryingly, consumers complain that benefits such as disability support or unemployment benefits are impossible to receive without a local IBAN. During the pandemic, more people relied on government support and barriers such as IBAN discrimination have caused unnecessary stress.

The French public healthcare and health insurance provider is one of the most featured organisations, making up 7% of European cases and 1 in 6 cases in France. Consumers are forced to open a French bank account (with an IBAN starting with FR), because the organisation claims their system doesn’t work with any other letters. This means that consumers struggle to get their medical costs refunded, and some may be temporarily pushed into debt.


Telecoms providers also make up a large chunk of the discriminating organisations. In countries such as Spain and Italy, they account for nearly half of all reported instances of IBAN discrimination. Surprisingly in Italy, it often concerns organisations which have already been fined by Italy’s Antitrust Authority (AGCM): Wind Tre, Vodafone, Fastweb and TIM.

All consumer reports of IBAN discrimination submitted via the form on the Accept My IBAN website will continue to be shared with the European Commission. We’re asking everyone to help us end IBAN discrimination across Europe.

All cases of IBAN discrimination reported on acceptmyiban.org will be passed on to the relevant authorities, so people don’t have to go through the hassle of finding the right complaints body. The more cases we report together, the more countries will be forced to act.

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