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. Traditionally, banks had roles of accepting deposits, transferring funds, money changing, and money lending.
The oldest banks in the world lead back to Renaissance Europe, with the oldest being the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena in Italy, that first opened in 1472. Other notable banks that have lasted for ages include Barclays, which was established in 1690, Coutts, which was started in 1692, and the Bank of England, which began in 1694, according to World Atlas.
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.
Here is a list of world's oldest surviving banks:
1. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena
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 shut down.
2. Berenberg Bank
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
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.
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.
4. C Hoare & Co
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.
5. Metzler Bank
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.
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, US electricity market manipulation in 2008, and gold price manipulation in 2008.
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. Bank of England
The Bank of England was founded as a private bank in 1694 to act as banker to the government.
9. Bank of Scotland
Bank of Scotland was founded by an Act of the Scottish Parliament on 17th July 1695.
It is Scotland's first and oldest bank, and post-dates the Bank of England by just one year.
10. Caja Madrid
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.