What is a checking account number?

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The current account or bank account is our sign of identification as far as financial management and administration are concerned. Receiving income or making payments, everyone goes through it. Do we know what is behind these functions? What do the digits mean? And the IBAN of the bank account?

What is the meaning of the bank/current account digits?

The checking account number is assigned by each bank to customers. Banks designate a 20-digit number that identifies your account and distinguishes it from the rest.

But how many digits does the account number have? It is made up of 20 numbers separated into groups and each one has a different meaning and utility. 

Changes in the account number with the arrival of the IBAN

The account number was renamed IBAN in 2014. Since the establishment of the SEPA area —which is formed by the 28 members of the EU plus Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Norway, countries that are also part of the European Economic Area, in addition to San Marino, Switzerland, and Monaco—, the bank account number changed its traditional structure to two letters and 22 figures.

The reason for the change? The answer is very simple. This change in bank accounts was made in order to make bank transfers and transactions between members of the European Union easier. 

The appearance of the letters in the IBAN in the bank account had the objective of identifying the origin of the account number, in addition to providing “order” to the rest of the number and unification between the member countries. In this way, the account number is read as follows:

  1. The letters of the beginning: determine the country of origin of the account.
  2. The information about the bank is marked by the following figures of the IBAN number:
    • You can also find the identification of the office where the account was opened with the following four numbers 
    • Two figures appear that correspond to the check digits.
    • And finally, the ten digits that make up the account number.

Uses of the account number

It is very common to use the IBAN in our day-to-day because since the changes that were made in 2014, this is the method of use for bank/current account numbers. In addition, thanks to their use, they have given way to other types of functionalities with the bank account, or without more, other ways to receive or make payments:


  • Another common use of this number is at weddings. The bride and groom usually provide their guests with this number so that they can give them a gift or help them pay for the honeymoon. In some cases, the number can be found on the internet if the bride and groom have decided to create a website for the event.                                                                                            
  • When you are asked for your account number or IBAN on an internet page, you should not be afraid. With this number you can only enter money or at most direct debit a receipt; In the latter case, it is enough for you to make a return of it. In most entities, you can do this management online or call the bank to cancel it.

From the professional field to social use

The self-employed are an example of a collective and the use of account numbers. The latter is your way to collect your fees after performing a contracting activity. For this reason, the use of the bank account, or IBAN, for those who contract their services or acquire their products, make the appropriate payments. 

Another of the uses that are given to the accounts and the digits that appear in them is social. It is very common for non-profit organizations or social aid campaigns to use this type of channel so that those who want to support the work can do so in just one transfer. 

Social networks and the Internet: what happens to the account number?

 The use of social networks has become a habit in our lives, and it is very common for us to share our daily lives, and even our private data, on them. On the other hand, the latter is not recommended. 

An example of this is the sending of our personal data such as bank account data through instant messaging applications. But, can this be dangerous for our privacy?

On the one hand, if we share this type of information on our social network profiles, we run the risk of having our account hacked and carrying out transactions that we have not authorized.

Another danger with which we must be careful is to facilitate the account to a third party, without being of our trust, because we expose ourselves to multiple causes and problems, such as the charge of payment.

In addition to these possibilities, another situation that can occur is that someone can sign you up for an online service, and therefore direct the payment to your bank account.

In most cases, when you request this type of service, they ask for other types of identification data to ensure the subscription and/or acquisition, although if your personal and bank data appear both on social networks and on the Internet, this situation may occur. 

An element with periodic review

The digits of an account number refer to certain financial and banking factors, and the computation of them, a priori, cannot run any risk. 

However, there is always the risk of a cyberattack or appropriation of its improper use by third parties. For this reason, it is necessary to carry out a periodic control of what happens in your account, in order to avoid charges and acts that do not correspond to your habits and uses of your money in the bank account.


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