10 Oldest Surviving Banks In The World
Oldest surviving banks. Photo: KnowInsiders

Banks are one of the most important institutions in the development of any country since it has the role of building a financial system that should support all aspect of society. Traditionally, banks had roles of accepting deposits, transferring funds, money changing, and money lending.

While these functions of banks still exist, the modern bank now focuses more on providing convenient modes of payment, and providing a supply of money which is responsive to the needs of the commercial sectors. In addition to this, modern banks are more centralized and government regulated than in the past.

The List of 10 Oldest Surviving Banks in the World

1. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena

2. Berenberg Bank

3. Sveriges Riksbank

4. C. Hoare & Co

5. Bankhaus Metzler (Metzler Bank)

6. Barclays

7. Coutts

8. Stadsbank van Lening — Netherlands, 1614

9. Bank of England — England, 1694

10. Bank of Scotland — Scotland, 1695

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Which are the 10 Oldest Surviving Banks in the World? What is the First Bank of the World?

1. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena

Photo: Studio Vaselli & Associati
Photo: Studio Vaselli & Associati

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena also known as BMPS, is the oldest surviving bank in the world. It was founded in 1472 by order of the Magistrature of the Republic of Siena as the Monte di Pietà and has been in continuous operation since then.

During the 17th and 18th century, after Italy was unified, BMPS expanded its operations throughout the entire country and offered the very first mortgage loans to Italian citizens.

Today, BMPS is the fourth largest commercial retail bank in Italy. In the the last few years, like several big banks around the world, BMPS has been bailed out by the government in order to avoid a shutdown.

2. Berenberg Bank

Photo: Financial Times
Photo: Financial Times

Berenberg Bank, which is legally known as Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. KG, is the world's oldest merchant and private bank and has operated continuously since it was founded in 1590 by the Berenberg-Gossler family.

The bank has never changed its legal identity or name and is still owned by a descendant of the original founders.

It is named after Johann Berenberg and his son-in-law Johann Hinrich Gossler – before they became merchant bankers, the Berenbergs were cloth merchants.

The bank's logo, which has never been changed, combines the coat of arms of the Berenberg (the bear) and Gossler (the goose foot) families.

3. Sveriges Riksbank

Photo: Johan Fowelin
Photo: Johan Fowelin

Sveriges Riksbank, commonly called Riksbanken, is the central bank of Sweden and the third oldest bank in continuous operation – it is also the world's oldest central bank.

The bank was established in 1668 under the direct control of the Riksdag of Estates (Sweden's highest authority after the king at the time) to prevent the king from interfering with the bank's affairs.

4. C. Hoare & Co

Photo: Financial Times
Photo: Financial Times

Sweden's previous bank, the Stockholms Banco, failed under the king's control because it issued too many notes without proper collateral. In 1866, the bank received its current name, Sveriges Riksbank, after a new national legislature was established. Following the global financial crisis of the early 2000s, the bank closed all of its branches in Sweden and outsourced the handling of coins and bills to a private company.

C. Hoare & Co is a small private bank and the oldest located in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1672 by Sir Richard Hoare and is still owned by his family, with his 10th and 11th generation descendants managing the bank’s operations. The bank services high-net-worth clients and provides them with loans, mortgages, savings accounts, and tax and estate planning services. During the 18th century, the bank introduced many aspects of modern banking, specifically, printed checks.

As England’s oldest bank and one of its most prestigious, C. Hoare & Co has had many famous clients including Lord Byron, Jane Austen, Eton College, and Catherine of Braganza, who was the wife of King Charles II.

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5. Bankhaus Metzler (Metzler Bank)

Photo: OCEANS & COMPANY
Photo: OCEANS & COMPANY

Bankhaus Metzler began as a cloth trading business founded by Benjamin Metzler in 1674. Metzler, who was from Saxony, moved to Frankfurt in 1671 and worked for a few years as a bookkeeper in a well known firm of drapers, before establishing his own business. Around 1760, the company transitioned into a bank and Friedrich Metzler was the first official banker of the family. During the end of the 19th century, the bank focused on providing individual financial services instead of stockbroking. Today, Metzler provides financial services as a merchant bank, in securities transactions, as an asset manager, and a corporate finance consultant.

6. Barclays

Photo: Sky News
Photo: Sky News

Barclays is one of the largest multinational banks in the world and sixth oldest bank still in existence. The bank started out as a goldsmith banking business established by John Freame and Thomas Gould in 1690. In 1736, James Barclay, Freame’s son-in-law, became a partner in the business, which spurred people to refer to it as “Barclays”.

In the early 1900s, Barclays began to expand it business by acquiring smaller English banks and continues to do so today. Due to its large size and global presence, Barclays has been involved with several scandals including accusations of money laundering and tax avoidance in 2009, U.S. electricity market manipulation in 2008, and gold price manipulation in 2008.

7. Coutts

Photo: The Guardian
Photo: The Guardian

Coutts is another English bank that dates back to the 17th century. The bank, which was originally a goldsmith-banker’s shop, was formed in 1692 by John Campbell, a young Scottish goldsmith-banker. After Campbell died in 1712, he left the business to his family and in 1755, his granddaughter, Polly, married a merchant and banker named James Coutts.

When both Polly and her father died in 1760, the bank and most of the Campbell fortune was left to James, who named the bank after himself. Since 2000, Coutts has been owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). In an effort to focus its efforts in the U.K., RBS sold Coutts International to Union Bancaire Privée, for an undisclosed amount.

8. Stadsbank van Lening — Netherlands, 1614

Photo: Flickr
Photo: Flickr

The not-for-profit Bank van Lening (pawnbroker) was founded in 1614 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The bank consists of six branches, two stores, and an auction house. Stadsbank van Lening can take gold and silver jewelry, diamonds, and different goods (such as bicycles, musical instruments, digital cameras) as collateral. All of these pawned items may stay at the bank for up to 6 months. Items will become the property of the auction house if previous owners haven’t repurchased them at the end of the term.

9. Bank of England — England, 1694

Photo: Ledger Insights
Photo: Ledger Insights

The Bank of England began as a private bank that would act as a banker to the Government. It was primarily founded to fund the war effort against France. The King and Queen of the time, William, and Mary were two of the original stockholders. It is thought that the bank was founded on July 27, 1694.

Britain’s biggest cash robbery took place in the Bank of England in 2006. Raiders stole £53,116,760 from the Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent.

10. Bank of Scotland — Scotland, 1695

Photo: The Shetland Times
Photo: The Shetland Times

Bank of Scotland was founded by an Act of the Scottish Parliament on 17 July 1695. It is Scotland’s first and oldest bank and is among the first banks in the UK.

The original 172 shareholders came mainly from Scotland’s political and merchant elite. They required a banking system that would offer long-term credit and security for merchants and landowners alike.

In 1696, the Bank of Scotland became the first bank in Europe to successfully issue paper currency. The Bank’s right to issue notes has been maintained to the present day.

The Role Of Financial Backing

While each bank has its own story, all of these banks have managed to last for centuries and a major reason for that these institutions were always backed by powerful organizations. This backing allowed the banks to have a certain sense of stability and security which is an essential part of the business model. The best example is in the history of the Bank of England. This bank was owned for a long time by powerful shareholders but it always had the backing of the English Government and to this day it is still the bank of the English Government. Other examples of this include the Berenberg Bank, which had the backing of the Berenberg family.

The Future Of Banking

In the future, banks will still be a major part of society and as always but new systems and trends will surely be involved. The competition between banks has significantly increased with a much larger number of banks available to the population. New models such as online banking will have a bigger role and this will increase things such as the number of transactions individuals make as well as the amount of interaction individuals have with their own personal banking since it is now much more accessible. All in all though, the concept of a bank will still remain the same as people will still use it for depositing money, transferring funds, money changing and borrowing money.

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