IBAN discrimination: What to do if a company doesn’t accept your IBAN

Magali Van Bulck

In finance, it’s important to know your rights and what to do when they’ve been violated.

Wise is here to help. We want to empower consumers and give them the tools to tell people when they haven’t been treated fairly. This blog post will set out what you can do if a company in Europe doesn’t accept your Wise IBAN. Hint: that’s not allowed.

What is my Wise IBAN?

An IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is what you usually give to people in order for them to send you money.

In 2017, we launched EUR bank details. They meant that anyone could receive Euros for free, straight to their Wise account. Since then, tons of people have signed up for EUR bank details. But we wanted to improve them further. So, in December 2019 we decided to launch new EUR bank details for customers in Europe.

We made this switch to give you a new IBAN - this one starts with ‘BE’. It lets you do more with your Wise account, like:

But we’ve noticed that some banks and merchants around the world don’t always accept Wise IBANs. Rest assured, this isn’t just a problem that Wise faces. It’s a problem for people across all of Europe. But it’s illegal.

Discrimination against non-local IBANs

Some companies and employers don’t accept IBANs that aren’t from the country they are based in. Let’s say you want to pay your electricity bill in France, but your electricity provider refuses to accept an IBAN that doesn’t start with FR (for France). That means they discriminate against non-local IBANs, which is a problem for people with an international account.

They are legally not allowed to do that. Merchants are required by EU law to accept IBANs from other member states of European Economic Area (EEA). If they don't, you can report them to the relevant authority in your country.

What can I do if a company doesn’t accept my IBAN?

Here’s what to do if this happens:

1. A merchant is blocking my Euro Direct Debit

Despite the Euro single market, some merchants won’t allow Direct Debits from Euro accounts based in another country.

That is against the law - but you can do something about it. Tell us about a merchant that doesn’t accept our IBAN for Direct Debit payment by reporting your case of IBAN discrimination on acceptmyiban.org.

Every EU country has a national competent authority you can report discriminating merchants to. You can find your national authority here.

2. A bank doesn’t allow me to make a payment to my Wise IBAN

Not all banks recognise our new EUR details yet, especially banks located outside the EU that make payments to Europe via SWIFT transfers.

Banks can be slow at updating their systems. This means that software doesn't always know yet about newer bank accounts, like ours. To fix this:

  1. Tell us about a bank that doesn’t allow transfers to our Belgian IBAN by reporting your case of IBAN discrimination on acceptmyiban.org

  2. Send our letter to the bank in question - it’ll help them understand what they need to do to fix this.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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