Transfers, direct debits: what to do in the event of discrimination at the IBAN?

Two letters and up to thirty-four characters. This line of code constitutes the IBAN (international bank account number or “international bank account number”), a sort of identity card for a bank account. Accounts opened with a French institution all start with FR, followed by a series of numbers and letters corresponding to the code of the bank, the bank branch and the account.

The IBAN of the 2.5 million customers of the German bank N26 in France therefore begins with DE, while the 2 million customers of Revolut in France have a Lithuanian IBAN, the country from which the bank of British origin operates in Europe. “However, we have started to offer them the benefit of a French IBAN since May 2022. The generalization to all customers will be done gradually “Says Elliot Cohen, spokesperson for France for Revolut.

Why then, insofar as discrimination in the IBAN – ie the fact of not accepting a transaction on the grounds that the account is domiciled in another European country – is illegal? “The reality is a little different from the theory: some telecom operators, companies and of administrations refuse IBANs from a country other than their own. And France is the country that concentrates the most difficulties.explains Magali Van Bulck, spokesperson for the payment specialist Wise, which launched the Accept My IBAN site (“accept my IBAN”) in 2021, in partnership with thirty European financial players.

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The French reported 800 abuses on this platform out of the 2,300 received. “This is both pure and simple discrimination, but also companies that put a spoke in the wheels of their customers when they want to make a transfer to an account whose IBAN does not start with FR, in asking them, for example, to contact customer service for authorization”details Mme Van Bulk.

Frictions confirmed by Jérémie Rosselli, general manager of N26 for France and Benelux: “Some French banks are overzealous when it comes to transferring money to an account whose IBAN does not start with FR. »

Up to €375,000

Another difficulty, in some companies, the computer system integrates the letters FR by default to make transfers to pay employees. Difficult, in this case, to present an IBAN from another country.

In case of concern, the case must be reported to the General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF), attached to the Ministry of the Economy, via its website SignalConso. The latter announces that it has received approximately seventy reports, between 1er January 2021 and August 27, 2022, including fifty this year. An investigation is underway on this subject.

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Transfers, direct debits: what to do in the event of discrimination at the IBAN?