Top 10+ Oldest Operating Banks in Europe
What Are The Oldest Banks In Europe
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What is the First Bank in the World?

While the oldest currently operating bank is the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which was established in 1472, the concept of banking predates this by many years. The first prototype bank, in fact, dates back to 2000 BCE, when merchants made grain loans to farmers and traders who transported products between cities.

Later, during the Roman Empire in ancient Greece, temple-based bankers began making loans, receiving deposits, and changing money. Meanwhile, traces of money lending can be found in ancient China and India.

Modern Banking Emerges in Medieval and Renaissance Italy

Scholars have traced the origins of modern banking to medieval and Renaissance Italy, with the most renowned Italian bank being Giovanni Medici's Medici Bank, founded in 1397. Banking extended from Northern Italy to Northern Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Development of Traditional Banking from the 15th to the 17th Centuries

Traditional banking expanded between the 15th and 17th centuries, giving rise to the world's oldest banks. During the 17th century, typical banking operations such as lending money, changing money, accepting deposits, and moving money were merged with the issuance of bank debts that functioned as a substitute for silver and gold coins.

This provided a convenient and secure mode of payment as well as a more responsive money supply to commercial needs, promoting industrial and commercial growth. As a result, banking became important as a funding requirement for European countries, resulting in the establishment of the first central banks and government regulations.

Top 10+ Oldest Banks In Europe

1. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (Italy)

Founded in 1472

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

After Italy was unified in the 17th and 18th centuries, BMPS expanded its activities throughout the country and made the first mortgage loans to Italian citizens.

BMPS is now Italy's fourth largest commercial retail bank. In recent years, BMPS, like several other large banks around the world, has been bailed out by the government in order to prevent closure.

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2. Banca Carige (Italy)

Founded in 1483

Banca Carige was established in Genoa in 1483. It has seen the ups and downs of Italian history. Founded to fund trade in the Maritime Republic, it has evolved to meet the changing financial situation over the ages.

Banca Carige has experienced modern issues, such as financial insecurity in the twenty-first century. It underwent considerable restructuring in 2019 to strengthen its financial condition.

3. Berenberg Bank (Germany)

Established in 1590

Berenberg Bank, primarily a merchant bank and a private bank, was founded in 1590 by the Berenberg family. Their heirs still hold the bank.

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4. Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden)

Established in 1668

Sveriges Riksbank, colloquially known as Riksbanken, is the central bank of Sweden and the world's third oldest bank in continuous operation.

To prevent the king from interfering with the bank's business, the bank was founded in 1668 under the direct jurisdiction of the Riksdag of Estates (Sweden's highest authority after the king at the time).

Under the king's supervision, Sweden's previous bank, Stockholms Banco, failed because it issued too many notes without appropriate collateral. After the establishment of a new national legislature in 1866, the bank was given its current name, Sveriges Riksbank. Following the early-2000s global financial crisis, the bank closed all of its branches in Sweden and outsourced coin and bill handling to a private company.

5. C Hoare & Co (United Kingdom)

Established in 1672

C Hoare & Co is the oldest tiny private bank in the United Kingdom. Sir Richard Hoare founded it in 1672, and it is still controlled by his family, with his 10th and 11th generation relatives running the bank.

The bank provides loans, mortgages, savings accounts, and tax and estate planning services to high-net-worth clientele. The bank pioneered several facets of modern banking, including printed checks, in the 18th century.

C Hoare & Co, England's oldest and most prominent bank, has many famous clients, including Lord Byron, Jane Austen, Eton College, and Catherine of Braganza, King Charles II's wife.

6. Barclays Bank (United Kingdom)

Established in 1690

Barclays was established in 1690. It began as a goldsmith banking firm in the City of London. It grew into a global financial behemoth over the decades. Barclays has been at the forefront of financial innovation since 1967, when it introduced the world's first ATM.

Barclays rose to prominence in its early days by financing trade between England and the Americas. The bank's colonial links were critical to its expansion.

7. Coutts (United Kingdom)

Established in 1692

Coutts is another English bank founded in the 17th century. John Campbell, a young Scottish goldsmith-banker, founded the bank, which was initially a goldsmith-banker's store, in 1692.

Campbell left the firm to his family after his death in 1712, and his granddaughter, Polly, married a merchant and banker called James Coutts in 1755.

When Polly and her father died in 1760, James was left the bank and the majority of the Campbell fortune, which he named after himself.

Coutts has been owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) since 2000. RBS sold Coutts International to Union Bancaire Privée for an unknown sum in order to focus its efforts in the United Kingdom.

8. Bank of England (United Kingdom)

Established in 1694

In 1694, the Bank of England was established as a private bank to operate as the government's banker.

9. Bank of Scotland

Established in 1695

On July 17, 1695, an Act of the Scottish Parliament established the Bank of Scotland.

It is Scotland's first and oldest bank, and post-dates the Bank of England by just one year.

10. Caja Madrid (Spain)

Established in 1702

Caja Madrid, formally the Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad de Madrid, headquartered in Madrid, is the oldest of the Spanish savings banks.

It was founded on 3 December 1702, by Francisco Piquer, an Aragonese priest. Caja Madrid was the regional-owned bank of the Community of Madrid.

11. Banco Etcheverria (Spain)

Year of foundation: 1717

Banco Etcheverria, which was established in 1717, is one of the oldest banks in the world. Banco Echeverria was a bank in Spain. This family-run bank is the oldest in Spain's financial system and the world's 11th oldest existing bank, dating back more than a half-century before the Bank of Spain. Juan Echeverry (née Jean Decheverry), a French businessman and tannery owner who had settled in Galicia, created it in Betanzos, A Corua (Spain) in 1717.

12. Banque de France

Year Founded: 1800

Banque de France was founded in 1800 by Napoleon Bonaparte. It has played a crucial role in France’s economic history. It was established to stabilize the country’s financial system and support economic development.

Banque de France has faced numerous challenges, including the ravages of two World Wars. It played a pivotal role in the post-war reconstruction of the French economy.


Since it has the role of building a financial system that should support all aspect of any society, banks are one of the most important institutions in the development of any country.

The oldest banks in Europe lead back to Renaissance Europe, with the oldest being the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena in Italy, that first opened in 1472. While each of these banks have their own story, all them have managed to last for centuries and a major reason for that these institutions were always backed by powerful organisations.

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