Understanding IBAN Discrimination and How to Combat It

This article is written by Pecunia Treasury and Finance

What is IBAN Discrimination?

International Bank Account Number (IBAN) discrimination occurs when individuals or businesses are denied financial services or face obstacles in making or receiving payments due to the country code in their IBAN. This form of discrimination undermines the efficiency and inclusivity of the European payments market. Leading to challenges in cross-border transactions and affecting economic development.

The European Union addresses IBAN discrimination through SEPA Regulation (EU) 260/2012. This ensures the smooth functioning of the European payments market. Article 9 of the regulation explicitly prohibits specifying the Member State in which an account to be debited or credited is located. This rule aims to guarantee that any IBAN from an EEA country is treated equally. And can be used to make or receive cross-border euro payments as efficiently as domestic transactions.

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Prevalence and Impact

Despite the regulatory framework, IBAN discrimination persists across the EEA. This discrimination can manifest in various forms, including:

  • Refusal to make or receive payments from non-domestic accounts.
  • Delays in processing cross-border transactions.
  • Denial of salary deposits or utility bill payments to or from certain IBANs.

The practice has a direct impact on individuals and businesses, disrupting financial stability and operations. For example, individuals may struggle to receive wages, while businesses face challenges in conducting international trade.

Efforts to Combat IBAN Discrimination

To address IBAN discrimination, the European Commission has made efforts to simplify the reporting process and increase awareness of the issue. In 2014, a registration center was established to track reports of IBAN discrimination. Additionally, the website www.acceptmyiban.org provides a streamlined way for individuals and businesses to report incidents of discrimination. Increased reporting has shed light on the extent of the issue, with several thousand reports in 2021 alone. This has led to greater scrutiny of companies and institutions that engage in discriminatory practices.

How to Address IBAN Discrimination

If you encounter IBAN discrimination, follow these steps:

  1. Inform the Organization: Notify the company or institution involved that their actions are against the law and could result in fines. Request that they correct their practices.
  2. Report the Incident: If the organization does not rectify the issue, consider reporting it through the www.acceptmyiban.org website, your national central bank, or another relevant authority.
  3. Share Your Experiences: Sharing your experiences with IBAN discrimination can help raise awareness and contribute to discussions with relevant bodies such as central banks or national payments associations.

Conclusion

IBAN discrimination poses significant challenges to financial inclusivity and cross-border transactions. By understanding the issue and taking action when faced with discrimination, individuals and businesses can contribute to the ongoing effort to eliminate this unfair practice. Increased awareness and streamlined reporting mechanisms will help ensure the smooth functioning of the European payments market and support economic growth across the region

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April 18, 2024

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