Banks play a pivotal role in shaping a nation’s economy and financial landscape. Some banks have stood the test of time, embodying financial history and resilience. The barter system, a kind of commerce, served as the forerunner of the first banks ever established in history.
In Italy throughout the early Renaissance and the Middle Ages, the first versions of modern banking emerged. During this period, the Medici Bank, one of history’s most illustrious banks, was founded. The banks on this list have been continuously open for several centuries, despite the fact that the first banks on this list no longer exist.
The oldest bank on this list predates the renowned Medici Bank, which closed in 1494.
Top 12 Oldest Banks in The World In Continuous Operation
1. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena: The world’s oldest still-operating bank is Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, or BMPS. It was established in 1472 as the Monte di Pietà by command of the Magistrature of the Republic of Siena and has been in continuous use ever since.
Following the unification of Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries, BMPS expanded its activities over the whole nation and provided the first mortgage loans to Italian residents. The fourth-largest commercial retail bank in Italy now is BMPS. Similar to many large banks throughout the world, BMPS has received government bailout money in recent years in order to keep operating.
2. Berenberg Bank: The Berenberg/Gossler family formed the world’s oldest commercial and private bank in 1590. Officially named as Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. KG, Berenberg Bank has been in continuous operation ever since. The bank is still owned by a descendent of the original founders and has never changed its legal name or identity.
It bears the names of Johann Berenberg and his son-in-law Johann Hinrich Gossler; the Berenbergs were cloth merchants prior to becoming commercial bankers. The Gossler and Berenberg families’ coats of arms are combined in the bank’s emblem, which has never been altered.
3. Sveriges Riksbank: Sveriges Riksbank, usually known as Riksbanken, is Sweden’s central bank and the country’s third oldest bank in continuous operation; it is also the world’s oldest central bank.
In order to prevent the monarch from meddling in the business of the bank, the Riksdag of Estates, who at the time was Sweden’s second-highest authority after the king, founded the bank in 1668.
Because it issued an excessive number of notes without enough security, Sweden’s previous bank, the Stockholms Banco, collapsed under the king’s rule. After a new national legislature was founded in 1866, the bank gained its current name, Sveriges Riksbank.
The bank shuttered all of its branches in Sweden after the early 2000s global financial crisis and contracted out the processing of coins and banknotes to a private business.
4. C. Hoare & Co: The smallest and oldest private bank in the UK is called C. Hoare & Co. Sir Richard Hoare established it in 1672, and his family still has ownership today, with his 10th and 11th generation relatives running the business. The bank offers loans, mortgages, savings accounts, tax and estate planning services, and other financial products and services to high-net-worth clientele.
The bank established several elements of contemporary banking in the 18th century, including printed checks. C. Hoare & Co, the oldest and one of the most prominent banks in England, has served a number of well-known people, including Lord Byron, Jane Austen, Eton College, and Catherine of Braganza, the wife of King Charles II.
5. Bankhaus Metzler: Benjamin Metzler created Bankhaus Metzler in 1674 as a textile trade company. Originally from Saxony, Metzler settled in Frankfurt in 1671 and, before starting his own company, spent a few years working as an accountant at a renowned drapers’ firm.
The business changed into a bank about 1760, and Friedrich Metzler was the family’s first recognized banker. Instead of stockbroking, the bank concentrated on offering personal financial services around the end of the 19th century. Metzler offers financial services in the present as a merchant bank, in securities transactions, as an asset manager, and as a corporate finance consultant.
6. Barclays: The sixth-oldest bank still in operation is Barclays, one of the biggest international financial institutions in the world. John Freame and Thomas Gould founded the first version of the bank in 1690 as a goldsmith banking company. When Freame’s son-in-law James Barclay joined the company as a partner in 1736, people started to call the company “Barclays.” Barclays started expanding its business by purchasing smaller English banks in the early 1900s, and it still does so today.
Due to its scale and widespread influence, Barclays has become embroiled in a number of controversies, including claims of tax evasion and money laundering in 2009, manipulation of the US power market in 2008, and manipulation of the gold price in 2008.
7. Coutts: An further English bank that was established in the 17th century is Coutts. A young Scottish goldsmith-banker named John Campbell founded the bank in 1692, which was once a store. After Campbell passed away in 1712, his family continued running the company, and in 1755, Polly Campbell Coutts married James Coutts, a businessman and banker.
Polly and her father both passed away in 1760, leaving James the bank and the most of the Campbell fortune. James gave the firm his own name.
The Royal Bank of Scotland has owned Coutts since 2000. (RBS). RBS transferred ownership of Coutts International to Union Bancaire Privée for an unknown sum in order to concentrate its operations in the United Kingdom.
8. Stadsbank van Lening: In Amsterdam, Netherlands, the non-profit Bank van Lening (pawnbroker) was established in 1614. Six branches, two businesses, and an auction house make up the bank. Jewelry made of gold and silver, diamonds, and other items (such as bicycles, musical instruments, and digital cameras) can be used as collateral by Stadsbank van Lening.
These pawned objects may all remain in the bank for a maximum of six months. If prior owners don’t buy them back by the term’s conclusion, items will become the property of the auction house.
9. Bank of England: At first, the Bank of England was a private institution that provided banking services to the government. It was established largely to finance the military effort against France. William and Mary, the reigning monarchs at the time, were two of the first investors. On July 27, 1694, the bank is said to have been established.
In 2006, the Bank of England was the scene of the largest cash theft in British history. The Securitas facility in Tonbridge, Kent, was raided and £53,116,760 was stolen.
10. Bank of Scotland: The Scottish Parliament passed a bill on July17,1695, creating the Bank of Scotland. It is among the first banks in the UK and the first and oldest bank in Scotland.
Most of the first 172 stockholders were prominent members of Scotland’s political and business classes. They needed a banking system that would provide both merchants and landowners with long-term credit and security. The Bank of Scotland issued paper money for the first time in history in 1696, making it the first bank in all of Europe. The Bank has continued to have the authority to issue notes.
11. Child & co: This is a private bank which was founded in 1664. It is the oldest bank in the United Kingdom and third oldest bank in the world. Formerly, it operates as an independent bank but now owned by the NatWest Group.
However, Child & Co. is the oldest independent financial institution in the United Kingdom and can trace its roots back to a London goldsmith business in the late 17th century. In 1664, Sir Francis Child established his business as a goldsmith when he entered into partnership with Robert Blanchard. He later married Blanchard’s stepdaughter and inherited the whole business on his partner’s death.
Subsequently, he renamed the business and it thrived, and was appointed to King Williams III as the “jeweller in ordinary“. Again, Sir Francis Child took over most of the assets of Coggs & Dann (who was a goldsmith banker) at the Kings Head’s sign in the Strand, over against the church of St. Clement Danes, after the bank became insolvent in 1710 due to a massive fraud, orchestrated by gentleman fraudster (known as “Thomas Brerewood“), which became known as the Pitkin Affair. In 1713, Sir Francis Child died and his three sons ran the business, and at that time, the business transformed from a goldsmith’s business to a fully fledged bank.
Today, the bank claims it was the first to introduce a pre-printed cheque form and that before it came, customers simply write a letter to their bank but sent it to their creditor who presented it for payment. However, in 1729, its first bank note was issued.
12. Drummonds Bank: This is a private bank that was formerly independent but now owned by NatWest Group (just like Child & Co). It was also incorporated by the Royal Bank of Scotland as a brand and is based in central London. In 1717, this bank was founded by Goldsmith Andrew Drummond and remained within his family until 1924 when it was purchased by The Royal Bank of Scotland.
Drummond bank was the first to be acquired by the Royal Bank south of the Scottish border and would be the first step in the development of banks into the largest bank in the world in terms of assets. At that time, this bank offered a variety of services to its private clients which include asset and wealth management.
Since 1760, It has been based at its headquarters and before 1758, the site was occupied by the townhouse (Naunton House). In 1758, the Commissioners of the Westminster Bridge purchased the townhouse and its neighbouring houses, for the purpose of widening the street and the surplus property of the bank was sold to Drummonds for £1,100.
In 1877 to 1881, the building was reconstructed, the Admiralty Arch was built and shortly after, the Mall laid out nearby. Today, the building of Drummond bank is listed Grade II on Historic register of England among the listed buildings.
The function of banks in developing a financial system that should support every area of society makes them one of the most significant institutions in the growth of any nation. In the past, banks’ responsibilities included taking deposits, moving money, converting money, and lending money. While these roles of banks still exist, the contemporary bank today places a greater emphasis on offering practical payment methods and a money supply that can adapt to the demands of the business sectors. Additionally, compared to earlier banks, modern banks are more centralized and subject to government regulation.