Central Bank calls on firms to prevent IBAN discrimination

17 June 2022 Press Release

Central Bank of Ireland

  • IBAN discrimination is an issue across Europe as more firms offer financial services cross border
  • The Central Bank has contacted regulated firms and business representative bodies in Ireland to reinforce all organisations’ responsibilities under SEPA
  • Supporting consumer choice to choose a provider with a non-Irish IBAN is important as Ulster Bank and KBC exit the Irish market

As incidents of IBAN discrimination are continuing to be an issue across Europe, and in Ireland, the Central Bank of Ireland is writing to all Regulated Financial Service Providers in the country, and a range of business and professional representative bodies, to remind firms of their obligations under the Single European Payments Area initiative (SEPA).

SEPA allows payment service customers to make cashless euro payments to firms and individuals anywhere within the SEPA area using their International Bank Account Number (IBAN). Refusing to accept non-Irish IBANs within the SEPA area is prohibited under the SEPA regulations, and is known as IBAN discrimination. IBAN discrimination creates difficulties for Irish and European consumers, and raises barriers to the proper functioning of our payment system.

Director of Financial Operations William Molloy said “Providers and facilitators of SEPA credit transfer and direct debit services must be aware of their obligations under SEPA. These obligations apply to all organisations including regulated financial services firms, businesses and State organisations. Consumers should be able to choose their Payment Service Provider (PSP) free from concerns about encountering problems when using their legitimate payment account details. The SEPA regulations create a single market for consumers which supports choice and facilitates innovation in payments. Firms should take any actions required to achieve full compliance with the SEPA regulations, thereby preventing cases of IBAN discrimination from occurring at the outset.

“Vigilance in ensuring full compliance with these obligations is especially important in the context of the pending exits of Ulster Bank Ireland DAC and KBC Bank Ireland plc from the Irish retail-banking sector. As a result of these exits, a large number of customers will be required to relocate their payment accounts to another PSP, and it is important that those customers who choose to use a PSP with a non-Irish IBAN are supported in doing so.”

The Central Bank is the competent authority in Ireland for the purposes of SEPA, other than when a payment is made between a consumer and a trader. In these instances, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is the competent authority in the State. The Central Bank and CCPC work together as appropriate to ensure mutual co-operation in the interests of consumers, employees and other payments stakeholders.


Notes to editors

  • Read our Explainer: What is "IBAN discrimination" and what can I do about it?
  • For further information on SEPA see the Central Bank website, the website of the CCPC, and the ECB website.
  • Representative and other bodies contacted by Letter include: IBEC; ISME; Small Firms Association; E-commerce Association of Ireland; RGDATA; Convenience Stores & Newsagents Association; Electricity Association of Ireland.
  • Members of the Single European Payments Area include: all 27 members of the EU; the UK; Iceland; Liechtenstein; Monaco; Norway; Switzerland; Andorra; San Marino; Vatican City.
  • KBC / Ulster Bank Withdrawal from Ireland – Consumer FAQ