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Online service must accept "non-German" bank account

This post is also available in: Deutsch

The SEPA Regulation, a key initiative of the European Union to standardize payment transactions, represents a significant step towards facilitating and standardizing cross-border payment transactions in Europe. A recent ruling by the Düsseldorf Regional Court (judgment of June 2, 2023 – Case No.: 38 O 162/22) has once again underscored the importance of this regulation for online providers. In this particular case, the court ruled that online providers do not have the right to reject a customer’s foreign SEPA account. This ruling sends a clear message to the online retail sector: discrimination against customers based on their geographical or financial location is not acceptable. A violation of this rule, such as the non-acceptance of a foreign SEPA account, is now considered a competition violation, which may have legal consequences for the provider in question.

Core of the judgment:

An online provider specializing in the purchase and resale of used electronic equipment was recently the focus of a legal dispute. The reason: A customer who wanted to sell his used electronic device was rejected by the provider because he could only provide a Lithuanian SEPA account number for the transaction. Instead of accepting the payment and continuing the trade, the provider decided to cancel the sale due to the foreign account number. The Düsseldorf Regional Court, after examining the case, concluded that this approach was not only discriminatory but also legally problematic. It was found that the refusal of the online provider to make payments to a Lithuanian account was in direct violation of Art. 9 para. 1 of the SEPA Regulation, a regulation that governs cross-border payment transactions in the EU. This ruling emphasizes the legal obligation of online merchants to accept payments from all SEPA countries without discrimination.

SEPA Regulation at a glance

SEPA, the Single Euro Payments Area, is an ambitious project of the European Union that aims to harmonize the entire European payment area. The creation of a single payment area for the euro is intended to break down barriers to cross-border payments and create a seamless payment experience for citizens and businesses in Europe. In concrete terms, this means that transfers, direct debits and card payments can be processed across national borders just as easily, quickly and securely as within a single country. For online providers, the SEPA Regulation brings a clear message: they must not discriminate against customers on the basis of their geographical origin or the origin of their bank details. This means that a customer from Spain with a SEPA account number from Finland must be treated in the same way as a customer with a domestic account number. This not only promotes cross-border trade, but also strengthens consumer confidence in the European single market.

By the way

In addition to the SEPA Regulation, online providers should also observe the Geoblocking Regulation. This regulation was created by the European Union to ensure that customers are not discriminated against on the basis of their nationality, place of residence or place of business, especially when they want to buy online services or products. In my previous articles, such as Geoblocking Regulation and Purchase on Account, Geoblocking Regulation: Watch out for the warning trap and Geoblocking Regulation: Apps and the like?, I highlighted the various aspects and potential pitfalls of the Geoblocking Regulation for online services.

The Geoblocking Regulation ensures that online retailers cannot block or redirect customers from other EU countries simply because they are in another country. In addition, they may not apply different sales conditions unless objectively justified. Failure to comply with this regulation may result in significant legal consequences.

It is therefore crucial that companies are aware of this and other legal frameworks and adapt their business practices accordingly in order to minimize legal risks and increase customer confidence in the European single market.


The recent ruling on the SEPA Regulation forcefully emphasizes how important it is for online providers to always design their business practices in line with the current legal requirements. Not only will this promote fair and transparent trade within the EU, but it will also increase customer confidence in online platforms and services. Especially when creating and updating general terms and conditions (GTC), online providers must ensure that they take into account all legal aspects, such as the SEPA and geoblocking regulations. It is essential that online providers adapt their business models and T&Cs accordingly to minimize potential legal risks.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.


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