What is used in the Euro zone to pay (through mail for example or in hand) without using cash, and without asking for bank details? Is there any commonly used money order type of document that can be nominally tied to the recipient?

  • 5
    Why do you want to avoid asking for bank details? All you need to send money to me is my account number (IBAN), and that is completely useless for any other purpose than sending money to me, so it's much less of a privacy/identity theft concern than an address for example.
    – TooTea
    Sep 16, 2021 at 9:00
  • That's an issue for interpersonal.stackexchange.com Sep 16, 2021 at 10:04
  • 1
    What makes you think that such a mechanism exists? There’s no obvious need for it.
    – Mike Scott
    Sep 16, 2021 at 16:53
  • 3
    @Lawrence Because those instruments are not common in the Eurozone. Some of them might be an option iff OP specifies a particular country like Ireland or France.
    – amon
    Sep 16, 2021 at 17:18
  • 1
    It could be useful to explain why you are trying to do this and where. If it's to settle a debt in a way that's traceable without the cooperation of the creditor, I am not aware of any SEPA-wide solution but there may be relevant national systems like consignations.caissedesdepots.fr/particulier/la-justice-et-vous/….
    – Relaxed
    Sep 17, 2021 at 9:02

3 Answers 3


Check-like mechanisms are not common. Cash and bank transfers work well. A postal address is simply not sufficient to make a payment (unless you want ro mail cash, which is a bad idea).

In person, cash is the only common payment method. If one party is a merchant they might have a card terminal, but that is just a convenient frontend for a bank transfer. In some contexts cash is less common and individuals might use smartphone apps for payment among each other, but that is very dependent on that specific country. Paypal is not overly attractive for payment between people who trust each other because it is very expensive compared to SEPA bank transfers – it mostly makes sense for the buyer protection, and for online payment without a credit card.

Remotely, it is normal to share or ask for bank details. An invoice will list an IBAN to which payment can be made. Businesses can also ask for authorization to make a debit charge against an account, but this is equivalent to a debit card payment. The charge authorization form is probably the closest equivalent to a cheque.

Note that cheques still exist in a niche. But I have only seen them in the context of refunds, where a business wants to make it as difficult as possible to receive the refund. Banks that do accept cheques charge comparatively high fees for processing them, and neobanks might not accept them at all.

A recurring theme in this answer is that SEPA transfers are often the more attractive payment method. SEPA transfers are fast (next business day or instant settlement), secure, and cheap (free or at most a couple of cents). Every adult has a SEPA-capable account.¹ It is the only way to pay most invoices, and sometimes the only way to do taxes.

1. Per EU directive 2014/92/EU, everyone, regardless of credit worthiness, is entitled to a basic checking account in order to facilitate access to electronic transfers.

  • 1
    A lot of this is untrue, including "every adult has a SEPA-capable account" or that this is "the only way to do taxes". Credit cards payments are also very different from bank transfers. As you say, it depends a lot on the country but after stating that, you seem to forget it entirely.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 16, 2021 at 7:10
  • 2
    @Relaxed Everyone in the EU has a right to a SEPA-capable account. Debit card payments are usually settled in a manner equivalent to SEPA transfers, credit cards are rare in most EU countries. But the point I'm trying to make to OP is that cheques have (almost completely) died out in Europe (excluding France) for consumers, so that asking for the IBAN of the recipient is the only reasonable way to send money to someone. The only alternative would be to send cash via the mail, but that is fairly risky.
    – amon
    Sep 16, 2021 at 16:56
  • 2
    A “right to a SEPA-capable account” is a very different statement. In actual fact, there are unbanked people in nearly every Eurozone country, up to 15-20% in Slovakia. Credit cards are actually very common in some other countries, even debit cards are typically settled very differently behind the scenes, and you just had to add a caveat to your statement about cheques. The inaccuracies are just piling on. It sounds like you may be extrapolating from your experience in a single country (Germany?) in a way that's not useful.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 16, 2021 at 20:20
  • And I am certainly not suggesting there is any ideal solution or obvious alternative, that's indeed the point of SEPA but we are still not there. Meanwhile, instead of adding a footnote that contradicts the statement it's supposed to justify, you should simply edit that statement (and a bunch of others).
    – Relaxed
    Sep 16, 2021 at 20:21
  • @Relaxed You're right, I could have done a better job of separating universal statements from localized experiences.
    – amon
    Sep 17, 2021 at 8:59

Some (many?) parts of the EU use a Giro system instead of a check system. A giro system is a pull-based system whereas a check system is a push-based system. In a giro system, if you want to collect money from someone, you send them a payment form they fill in and return. The form has their banking details. You then use the payment form to pull the money from their account. Wikipedia has a short article on this kind of system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giro.







These all work

  • The question is for when you only have the address+name of the person and want/need to avoid interaction. It's not about people without bank accounts. Sep 16, 2021 at 0:47
  • @QuoraFeans maybe that information should be in the question?
    – AakashM
    Sep 16, 2021 at 8:50
  • 3
    @QuoraFeans Revolut and Wise give all users bank accounts, so that is an incorrect assessment of my answer, and you ALSO don't need the other users bank details to send them money which satisfies the question you actually asked. The other three also have platform-specific identifiers like email addresses that let you move funds between users on their platform. You should ask the question you ACTUALLY want the answer to for whatever sketchy problem you think you have, because the vagueness isn't getting you anywhere.
    – CQM
    Sep 16, 2021 at 12:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .