Regulation (EU) 2018/302 came into effect on 3rd December 2018, which prevents merchants in the European Economic Area from discriminating against consumers based on:
- The EEA member state in which the consumer is located (e.g. including according to IP address)
- The consumer’s nationality
- The EEA member state in which the consumer’s payment card is issued
With regard to using Curve, my reason for this post is the last point, because I am sure that many of you, like me, have experienced merchants refusing to accept foreign cards, including Curve which is issued in the UK. This is now unlawful, specifically breaching Article 5(1) of Regulation (EU) 2018/302, which states:
A trader shall not, within the range of means of payment accepted by the trader, apply, for reasons related to a customer’s nationality, place of residence or place of establishment, the location of the payment account, the place of establishment of the payment service provider or the place of issue of the payment instrument within the Union, different conditions for a payment transaction, where:
(a) the payment transaction is made through an electronic transaction by credit transfer, direct debit or a card-based payment instrument within the same payment brand and category;
(b) authentication requirements are fulfilled pursuant to Directive (EU) 2015/2366; and
© the payment transactions are in a currency that the trader accepts.
If you search for information about this regulation, commonly known as the Geoblocking Regulation, you will find a very useful FAQ for businesses, which is much easier to read than the raw legislation itself, although the raw legislation is available in 24 EU languages at the above link.
Before you get excited that you can now require an online retailer to send goods to anywhere in the EEA such as French Guiana, Campione d’Italia or the Canary Islands, the regulation does not require retailers to do so. A retailer can choose its delivery area, which can even be specific parts of one country. For example, many UK retailers do not deliver to Scottish Islands, let alone to other EEA countries. But a retailer cannot refuse to deliver to an address within its stated delivery coverage area by virtue of your home address being outside that coverage area.
Unfortunately financial services are excluded from the scope of the regulation, so ATMs are still allowed to charge fees to foreign cards but not to locally-issued cards, which is often the case in Spain and Greece for example.