UK customers facing iban discrimination on EU payments

News  /  Published 03 Feb 2021  / 

Starling Bank says that some companies across the EU are refusing to accept payments from UK euro account holders because the international bank account number (iban) contains the country code ‘GB’.

Every iban begins with a two digit country code, which shows where in the world the account is based. The refusal to accept a payment containing the GB identifier is known as ‘iban discrimination’.

“Let’s say that you’re looking to pay a utility bill for a property that you own in Spain,” explains Starling. “If you try to pay this bill by direct debit (or by bank transfer) and the utility company refuse to accept this payment because your Iban starts with GB, this could be Iban discrimination. If your bank account is in a different country and your bank supports Sepa payments, the utility company is required by law to accept your GB iban.”

Even though the UK is no longer part of the European Union (EU), it’s still part of the Single Euro Payments Area. Refusing to accept a payment from the iban code of a Sepa member is a violation of EU rules.

Unveiled in February 2019, Starling’s euro account is designed for European expats living in the UK and UK citizens on the continent who are paid in euros, or those who need to make regular payments in euros.

Starling has drafted up a written template for account holders suffering from iban discrimination to complain to companies refusing payment details.

The Bank of England in December warned of the potential for payment disruption for consumers and businesses at the end of the Brexit transition period.

The central bank said that processing payments, including Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa) payments, between the UK and EU will require additional information to be included, such as payers’ addresses.

Source: Finextra