Despite being illegal since 2014, IBAN discrimination – when a company, bank or institution insists you need a local IBAN to pay and your IBAN from another EU country is invalid – is still commonplace throughout Europe. This is why Wise and other financial institutions have launched the Accept My IBAN initiative, allowing consumers to report discrimination without any administrative hassle.
According to European law, any IBAN issued in a EU Member State needs to be accepted in all Member States. In spite of this, the issue still persists, and it is not difficult to find recent examples of IBAN discrimination. For instance – in Ireland, local bank AIB has declined an overseas IBAN, and in Spain, major telecoms Movistar and MasMovil have also informed customers they need local IBANS. In some cases, such as with Irish health insurance provider, VHI Insurance the company only accepted a non-Irish IBAN when the customer informed them of legislation in place – even so, only this person’s IBAN has been whitelisted, and the company still informs other customers that they need a local IBAN.
What is the issue with IBAN discrimination? By discriminating against overseas IBANs, providers are indirectly forcing the customer to open a bank account with an entity that provides a local IBAN. This means administrative hassle and financial worries for consumers. With many banks and financial institutions often having strict procedures for proving identity and address, it may not always be possible for a consumer to open a local bank account. Through the Accept my IBAN initiative, Wise and the other participating financial institutions aim to draw attention to how prevalent this issue still is.
Accept my IBAN initiative
To bring this issue to the attention of policymakers and encourage the necessary changes, Wise has partnered with other leading financial institutions to launch the Accept My IBAN initiative. Companies including Revolut, N26, Raisin, SumUp and Klarna have joined the fight, which started off with a letter to the European Commission asking them to take action against countries where the issue is commonplace.
The recently launched initiative aims to be an easy way for anyone to report IBAN discrimination regardless of who they pay with. All cases of IBAN discrimination reported will be passed on to the relevant authorities and the European Commission, so customers don’t have to go through the hassle of finding the right complaints body.
Arunan Tharmarajah, Head of European Banking, Wise said: “Our coalition serves millions of people across Europe, and we believe it is crucial to put an end to discrimination against non-local IBANs. Our customers – and the customers of our coalition partners – still fall victim to this on a daily basis. Unfortunately, European consumers are mostly unaware that banks or merchants – or even public bodies – are not allowed to discriminate against IBANs from another EU country.
“Knowing your rights is half the battle. But complaining and reporting is the key to winning this battle. That’s why we are launching Accept My IBAN. We’re calling on all European consumers to stop taking no for an answer. IBAN not accepted? Tell us and we promise your case will be heard by the relevant authorities.”