Oldest banks in the world still operating today

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February 27, 2019
Benoit Daoust // Shutterstock

Oldest banks in the world still operating today

Long before Adam Smith fathered the idea of capitalism in his book “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” which was published the same year that the United States declared its independence from England, the institution of banking had taken root. The early lending institutions were merchant bankers, who traded commodities with traveling merchants. European bankers used tactics first mastered by the Silk Road traders, who were the predecessors to investment bankers. Many of the earliest banks spurred from a successful merchant banker who used his reputation and client pool to launch what we today understand as a bank.

Obviously, in the banking world, a reputation of dependability is worth more than gold. And so, many banks work to trace their lineage to the earliest possible date, starting their history at the first instance of entrance into a banking-like system. As such, many of the oldest banks claim their founding date as the moment their original banker first began creating accounts with local and traveling traders. In some cases, the first brick-and-mortar bank that fits our modern understanding did not open until a generation or two later. Rather than dive into the weeds and become entangled in a dissection of what constitutes the inception of a banking institution, the years on this list are the widely accepted and reported founding dates of each bank.

Many of the ancient banks were created by governments and have functioned as central banks for European states for centuries. But incredibly, others have been family owned and operated, continuously, for tens of generations. The institutions on this list are ancient—older than the United States, older than St. Peter's Cathedral, even older than capitalism itself.

So here are the 50 oldest banks in the world that are still operating today.

You may also like: A history of banking over the last 30 years

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Swen_Goebbels // Shutterstock

#48. Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. (tie)

- Year founded: 1818
- Country: United States
- Historic country: United States

The original bank was founded by Alexander Brown, who moved to Baltimore from Ireland and, after amassing a fortune in the linen business, started the Bank of Alex. Brown & Sons in 1818 with his four boys in Philadelphia. Alexander passed away in 1834, but his sons continued expanding the business, opening different branches in New York and even England. The Brown Brothers merged in 1931 with the Harriman family businesses to form Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. One of the founding members of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. was Prescott Bush, the father of President George H.W. Bush and the grandfather of President George W. Bush.

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Mossot // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Groupe Caisse d'Épargne (tie)

- Year founded: 1818
- Country: France
- Historic country: Bourbon Restoration (Kingdom of France)

First founded in Paris in 1818, the Caisse d'Epargne was long thought of as a private bank for the public. In 1878, the first Banque Populaire was founded in order to allow entrepreneurs to pool and fund their projects cooperatively. The two merged in 2009, creating the Groupe BPCE, which instantly became France's second largest bank.

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Sean Gallup // Getty

#48. Berliner Sparkasse (tie)

- Year founded: 1818
- Country: Germany
- Historic country: Prussia

Initially founded in Berlin in 1818, Berliner Sparkasse is a sparkasse, which means it functions as a savings bank (an institution to accept savings and payout interest). In 1990, it merged to become the Landesbank Berlin AG, a universal bank, which could both lend and hold savings. More than 200 years later, it is still based in Berlin.

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Donald Trung // Wikimedia Commons

#45. SNS Bank (tie)

- Year founded: 1817
- Country: Netherlands
- Historic country: Netherlands

Initially founded in 1817, the bank was the first savings bank in all of the Netherlands. In 1987, a merger made the bank an economic force in the Netherlands, leading to rapid growth throughout the 1990s. In 2013, the bank was nationalized; today the Dutch state owns and operates SNS Bank.

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DXR // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Bank of Montreal (tie)

- Year founded: 1817
- Country: Canada
- Historic country: Lower Canada

The first branch of the Bank of Montreal opened on Nov. 3, 1817; at the time, it was based in a rented home in the Canadian city. The bank was first called Montreal Bank and changed its name to Bank of Montreal in 1822. BMO has grown into a behemoth in its 200-year history: It started with £250,000 and now controls over $728 billion.

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Scott Kenneth Brodie // Shutterstock

#45. Bank of New South Wales (tie)

- Year founded: 1817
- Country: Australia
- Historic country: New South Wales

Australia's oldest bank started in 1817 and had its first crisis four years later: it wasn't an economic crash; rather, the bank's chief cashier ran off with half of the money. Still, the bank persevered, eventually buying Commercial Bank of Australia in 1982 and changing its name to Westpac Banking Corporation.

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12019 // Pixabay

#44. Banque Bonhôte & Cie

- Year founded: 1815
- Country: Switzerland
- Historic country: Neuchâtel

Founded by Louis Petitmaître in the Swiss canton Neuchâtel in 1815, Banque Bonhôte was the first private bank in the region. It was an 1895 partnership with Paul Bonhôte that gave the bank the name Banque Bonhôte & Cie. The bank was briefly owned by a holding company from 1988 to 1992, but has been privately owned for all the rest of its two-century history.

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TonyV3112 // Shutterstock

#43. De Nederlandsche Bank

- Year founded: 1814
- Country: Netherlands
- Historic country: Netherlands

De Nederlandsche Bank was first founded by King William I of Netherlands in 1814. The bank has long been the Netherlands' national bank, though its role changed in 1999 with the launch of the euro, the official currency of the European Union. De Nederlandsche Bank is now a part of the European System of Central Banks.

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Brian Kinney // Shutterstock

#41. Citibank (tie)

- Year founded: 1812
- Country: United States
- Historic country: United States

On June 16, 1812, after over a year of political wrangling, the City Bank of New York opened its doors. The original board was split down the middle between New York businessmen aligned with President James Madison and New York businessmen who sided with Vice President George Clinton; with the power evenly balanced between them, the bank was allowed to open. In the early 1900s, the bank opened a garish columned branch on 55 Wall Street. In 1977, Citibank launched its first ATM in Queens. Citibank was hit hard during the 2008 market crash, but rebounded with the help of the government bailout by the end of 2010.

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JoachimKohlerBremen // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Sparkasse Schwyz (tie)

- Year founded: 1812
- Country: Switzerland
- Historic country: Schwyz

The bank was opened in the Swiss canton of Schwyz on April 24, 1812 by Augustin Schibig, who was an ordained priest. It was not until 1879 that the bank opened its first official branch; for its first 67 years, transactions were made within the apartment of the bank’s administrator. In 2004, the bank was transformed into a company with shareholders, though residents of Schwyz still owned the majority of the stakes in the firm.

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Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

#39. N M Rothschild & Sons (tie)

- Year founded: 1811
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Nathan Mayer Rothschild thrived in Manchester cloth wholesale business and used the success to open his first bank, N M Rothschild in London, in 1810. Rothschild began supplying the Duke of Wellington with gold during the Napoleonic Wars, but became an absolute institution in Britain after stepping in to save the Bank of England in 1826. These two early acts—which gave the Rothschild bank a reputation as an institution that could shift the fate of world powers—mixed with the fact that the Rothschilds were Jewish—set off two centuries of anti-semitic conspiracy theories with the Rothschilds as the central characters.  

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Mahlum // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Bank of Finland (tie)

- Year founded: 1811
- Country: Finland
- Historic country: Finland

Two years after Finland fell under Russian rule in 1809, Tsar Alexander I decreed that an Office for Exchange, Lending and Deposits would be opened in Turku. In 1818, the Office moved to the new capital in Helsinki and became the Bank of Finland. The bank is the fourth oldest national central banks, and joined the European System of Central Banks in 1999 when the euro was created.

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Paul the Archivist // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Brown, Shipley & Co.

- Year founded: 1810
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Started by another son of Irish merchant Alexander Brown (also the father of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.), Brown, Shipley & Co. was founded as William Brown & Co. in Liverpool in 1810. In 1825, William Brown partnered with Joseph Shipley, and the two began financing shipping merchants and then shifted to merchant banking in 1860, growing into a financial force in the industry. In 1992, Brown, Shipley & Co. was acquired by KBL, a European bank based in Luxembourg.

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Diego Grandi // Shutterstock

#37. Banco do Brasil

- Year founded: 1808
- Country: Brazil
- Historic country: Brazil

Banco do Brasil was founded on Oct. 12, 1808 and became Brazil's first bank. It was with funding from Banco do Brasil that the country built its first stock exchange in 1819. Today, it remains the largest bank in the country (and in all of Latin America); in 2010, it held $811 billion in assets. The bank covers all of Brazil and has more than 54 million customers.

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Zvonimir Atletic // Shutterstock

#36. State Bank of India

- Year founded: 1806
- Country: India
- Historic country: Calcutta

The State Bank of India was founded in 1806 as the Bank of Calcutta (and three years later renamed the Bank of Bengal). In 1921, the Bank of Bengal merged with two other giant regional banks to become the Imperial Bank of India, instantly the largest commercial institute in India. Eight years after India's independence, in 1955, the IBI was nationalized and renamed the State Bank of India.

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#35. Pictet & Cie

- Year founded: 1805
- Country: Switzerland
- Historic country: Geneva

Pictet & Cie was founded by Jacob-Michel-François de Candolle and Jacques-Henry Mallet, both in their 20s, in 1805. The bank originally focused on using the men's combined assets to trade in commodities out of de Candolle's home, but soon switched to more traditional wealth management services. Today, it remains one of the most famous Swiss banks.

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Chrispictures // Shutterstock

#34. Schroders

- Year founded: 1804
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

In 1804, Johann Heinrich Schröder became a partner in his brother's firm, J.F. Schröder & Co—which he had started four years earlier—before establishing J. Henry Schröder & Co. in 1818. In the 1850s, Schroders became an international force, issuing its first overseas bond to help pay for a railroad in Cuba. J. Henry Schröder & Co. became Schroders Ltd. in the 1950s before becoming publicly traded as Schroders in 1959.

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Aimelaime // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Banque de France

- Year founded: 1800
- Country: France
- Historic country: France

Banque de France was created as France's national bank in 1800 in order to stabilize the economy of the country after the financial uncertainty of the French Revolution, with Napoleon Bonaparte as one of its founding shareholders. The bank was given the rights to create currency for years while remaining independent of the government, but was eventually nationalized in 1946. In order to enter the European Union, France privatized the bank in 1993; it is now a member of the European Central Bank.

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Bank of the Manhattan Company // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Manhattan Company

- Year founded: 1799
- Country: United States
- Historic country: United States

In April 1799, Aaron Burr founded the Manhattan Company and worked with prominent New Yorkers including the man he'd later murder—Alexander Hamilton—to get a charter from the state to improve the city's water later that year. The charter allowed the company to use the excess money it raised in any legal way it saw fit, which allowed for the Manhattan Company to slyly become New York's second commercial bank. The bank merged with Chase National Bank in 1955.

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Ajepbah // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Donner & Reuschel (tie)

- Year founded: 1798
- Country: Germany
- Historic country: Hamburg

The bank was originally founded by Conrad Hinrich Donner, a 24-year-old Hamburg merchant and shipowner. In July 2009, the Conrad Hinrich Donner Bank acquired Reuschel & Co., a large German bank founded in 1947, and became Donner & Reuschel in October 2010.

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Claus-Joachim Dickow // Wikimedia Commons

#30. M.M. Warburg & Co. (tie)

- Year founded: 1798
- Country: Germany
- Historic country: Hamburg

Founded by Moses Marcus and Gerson Warburg, M.M. Warburg & Co. the bank grew in profit and prominence as it shifted from currency trading to funding Hamburg merchants international trades and bankrolling the German Empire's colonial pursuits. During the 1970s, with East and West Berlin still separated, the bank nearly merged to survive. Instead, it began to expand, especially after the reunification of Germany. Today, it continues to grow, acquiring more and more international firms.

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Epizentrum // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Hauck & Aufhäuser (tie)

- Year founded: 1796
- Country: Germany
- Historic country: Frankfurt

In 1796, 25-year-old Friedrich Michael Hauck became a partner at a forwarding and commissioning business, which helped him begin to build an international network of businessmen. Eventually, Hauck began offering banking services to the merchants visiting Frankfurt. In 1998, Hauck's bank merged with a bank founded by another young businessman, Heinrich Aufhäuser, in 1870: The new bank was dubbed Hauck & Aufhäuser.

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Alexander Demyanenko // Shutterstock

#28. Lombard Odier & Cie (tie)

- Year founded: 1796
- Country: Switzerland
- Historic country: Geneva

The banking class of Geneva, Switzerland, thrived during the second half of the 1700s, but the French Revolution swiftly destroyed the wealth of the city's elites. Then, seven years after the Revolution, Henri Hentsch and Jean Gédéon Lombard opened “Hentsch & Cie,” which two years later was renamed “Henri Hentsch & Lombard.” In 1830, a French banker named Charles Odier pushed his new partner, Lombard, to have the bank invest heavily in the United States, which was growing rapidly from a farming nation to an industrial superpower; obviously, the bet worked.

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Elijah Lovkoff // Shutterstock

#27. State Street Corporation

- Year founded: 1792
- Country: United States
- Historic country: United States

In 1792, Massachusetts Gov. John Hancock gave his John Hancock to the founders of Union Bank, which became the third chartered bank in Boston. A century later in 1891, State Street Deposit & Trust was also founded in Boston. In 1925, the two companies merged, taking State Street's name, but remaining on the Union Bank charter. Today, the bank has become the largest trustee of mutual funds and pensions, with $6.2 trillion under its guidance.

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Julia2812 // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Sal. Oppenheim

- Year founded: 1789
- Country: Germany
- Historic country: Cologne

At only 17 years old, Salomon Oppenheim Jr. started Sal. Oppenheim jr. & Cie in 1789 to serve the court of the Archbishop-Prince Elector that was based in his hometown of Bonn. When the French occupied Germany in 1794, Oppenheim made the most of the hardship, moving to Cologne, which had just lifted its ban on Jewish residents because of the occupation. Sal. Oppenheim was criminally mismanaged by Christopher von Oppenheim in the 2000s, leading to his conviction and the sale of Sal. Oppenheim to Deutsche Bank in 2009 for 1 billion euros.

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Mihai-Bogdan Lazar // Shutterstock

#24. La Roche & Co. (tie)

- Year founded: 1787
- Country: Switzerland
- Historic country: Basel

In 1787 in Basel, Switzerland, Benedikt La Roche started a merchant trading company that switched its focus to banking in 1800. In 2015, Notenstein Private Bank bought La Roche, which at the time managed $7 billion. In 2018, Vontobel bought Notenstein La Roche for $705 million.

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#24. Raphaels Bank (tie)

- Year founded: 1787
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: Kingdom of Great Britain

The second oldest independent bank in the U.K., Raphaels Bank was founded by Raphael Raphael in 1787. The bank stayed in the family for almost 200 years until the Raphael family sold it in 1983. In 2016, Vodafone began offering U.K. subscribers the ability to make PayPal payments with the backing of Raphaels Bank.

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Louis-Léopold Boilly // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Hottinger & Cie

- Year founded: 1786
- Country: Switzerland
- Historic country: Kingdom of France

The history of the Hottinger family of Switzerland traces back to the 15th century. The family was known for its famous clergymen for generations. But in 1786, the 26-year-old Jean-Conrad Hottinger founded Messieurs Rougemont & Hottinguer in Paris; in 1789, he opened his own bank, Messieurs Hottinguer & Cie. In 2015, after years of family ownership, the bank caught ire of regulators because it was overly leveraged, and declared bankruptcy and closed. In 2015, Frédéric Hottinger relaunched the company, calling it the Hottinger Group.

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Bahnemann // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Trinkaus & Burkhardt

- Year founded: 1785
- Country: Germany
- Historic country: Palatinate

Christian Gottfried Jaeger founded a trading company to bring dyes, chemicals, and groceries down the Rhine in 1785 in Düsseldorf. Jaeger brought his nephew Christian Gottfried Trinkaus into his company, who turned the trading company into a bank when Jaeger died in 1852. In 1972, the bank merged with Burkhardt & Co. and then was acquired by Citibank in 1974. Today, it is a part of the HSBC group.

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daveynin // Flickr

#21. Bank of New York

- Year founded: 1784
- Country: United States
- Historic country: United States

In 1784, the Bank of New York opened with $500,000 in capital and a constitution written by one of its directors, Alexander Hamilton. In 1792, the Bank of New York became the first stock traded on the newly opened New York Stock Exchange. In 2007, the Bank of New York merged with the Mellon Financial Corporation, and the combined bank is now referred to as BNY Mellon.

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Benoit Daoust // Shutterstock

#20. Bank of Ireland

- Year founded: 1783
- Country: Ireland
- Historic country: Kingdom of Ireland

The first Bank of Ireland opened at Mary's Abbey in Dublin in 1783, reaching 58 branches over the next century. In 1922, with the creation of the Irish Free State, the bank became the official banker to the Irish government. The bank has the right to issue currency in Northern Ireland, where it is also headquartered, and in 2008, it issued 5 pound notes with Bushmill distillery on the back.

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Daniel Myjones // Shutterstock

#19. Bank of Spain

- Year founded: 1782
- Country: Spain
- Historic country: Spain

The Bank of Spain was first founded in 1782 as the Banco Nacional de San Carlos, taking the role as a privately owned bank with close ties to the Spanish kingdom. The bank was given the right to create currency based on royal debt. In 1922, the Bank of Spain was officially made the country's central bank; the bank became part of the European System of Central Banks in 1999 when the euro became the currency of the EU.

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ansonfd // Shutterstock

#18. Landolt & Cie

- Year founded: 1780
- Country: Switzerland
- Historic country: Neuchâtel

Samuel Hollard, at the time the mayor of Lausanne, started Landolt & Cie in 1780. The bank is the oldest in French-speaking Switzerland, and continues to have ties to the Landolt family, who has been heavily involved from inception. The bank remains privately owned and is best known for wealth management for high-end patrons.

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Nightflyer // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Fürstlich Castell'sche Bank

- Year founded: 1774
- Country: Germany
- Historic country: Würzburg

Fürstlich Castell'sche Bank was founded in Würzburg, Germany, in 1774. The bank services both private and corporate clients in southern Germany and is the oldest bank still operating in the German town, which sits between Frankfurt and Nuremberg.

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Leon Neal // Getty

#16. Lloyds Bank

- Year founded: 1765
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: Kingdom of Great Britain

John Taylor, Sampson Lloyd, and their sons started the bank Taylors & Lloyds in Birmingham in 1765. The bank served the town's manufacturing class and grew throughout the century as Birmingham became a hub of the Industrial Revolution. In 1865, the Lloyds broke off from the Taylors and began their own joint-stock company, which began their rapid growth as a powerful banking entity, spurred on by many acquisitions over the next century. In 1995, Lloyds Bank merged with TSB to become, for a moment, the largest U.K. domestic banker.

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nbnserge // Shutterstock

#15. Banque Courtois

- Year founded: 1760
- Country: France
- Historic country: Kingdom of France

Founded in 1760 by Isaac Courtois, Banque Courtois is the oldest bank in all of France. In 1992, the bank was bought by Crédit du Nord Group, which itself was bought by Société Générale in 1997. The nearly 260-year-old bank serves France's Grand Sud region.

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Vismarkt1979 // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Banque Nagelmackers

- Year founded: 1747
- Country: Belgium
- Historic country: Liège

Pierre Nagelmackers founded Banque Nagelmackers in 1747 in Liège, Belgium. Banque Nagelmackers was taken over and temporarily replaced by Delta Lloyd Bank in 2005, but in October 2015, Anbang Belgium Holding reopened Banque Nagelmackers. The bank is the oldest in all of Belgium.

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Juriaan Wossink // Shutterstock

#13. Van Lanschot

- Year founded: 1737
- Country: Netherlands
- Historic country: Dutch Republic

Van Lanschot traces its roots to Cornelis van Lanschot's first trade with Dutch merchant traders in 1737. In 1881, Godefridus van Lanschot ended the firm's trading arm and made Van Lanschot exclusively a banking and securities company. The firm became publicly traded in 1978 and has continued expanding since.

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Heartland Arts // Shutterstock

#12. Royal Bank of Scotland

- Year founded: 1727
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: Kingdom of Great Britain

With a royal charter, the Royal Bank of Scotland was founded in Edinburgh in 1727. The bank expanded to Glasgow in 1783, becoming an important force in Scottish banking. The Royal Bank of Scotland has continued to acquire and merge with other Scottish banks, expanding to 682 branches after its merger with the National Commercial Bank of Scotland in 1969. RBS made revenue of £13.4 billion in 2018.

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Leonard Bentley // Flickr

#11. Drummonds Bank

- Year founded: 1717
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: Kingdom of Great Britain

Andrew Drummond started working as a goldsmith in London in 1712, but it was a private bank he started in 1717 that became his lasting creation. By 1769, the year of Drummond's death, his bank, which had been taken over by his family, served 1,500 customers and brought in annual profits of £10,000. In 1924, Drummonds Bank was bought by the Royal Bank of Scotland, who still runs it today.

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Dmitry Agafontsev // Shutterstock

#10. Caja Madrid

- Year founded: 1702
- Country: Spain
- Historic country: Castile

Caja Madrid was founded in December of 1702 and is Spain's oldest bank. In 2010, it merged with six other Spanish banks—Bancaja, La Caja de Canarias, Caja de Ávila, Caixa Laietana, Caja Segovia, and Caja Rioja—to become Bankia, a behemoth of Spanish savings banks. Caja Madrid was the biggest of the seven Spanish banks at the time, and retained over 50% of the shares in the merger.

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Ad Meskens // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Bank of Scotland

- Year founded: 1695
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: Kingdom of Scotland

The Bank of Scotland was founded in Edinburgh in 1695 and was the only bank in the country until the Royal Bank of Scotland opened its doors in 1727—the institutions became warring rivals within the country's largest city. In 1696, the bank became the first in Europe to successful print widely accepted paper currency. In 2001, Bank of Scotland merged with Halifax, and then in 2009, they were bought by Lloyds TSB. Today, Lloyds TSB's Scottish headquarters are in the old Bank of Scotland building, which was built on Edinburgh's Mound in 1806.

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Images George Rex // Flickr

#8. Bank of England

- Year founded: 1694
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: Kingdom of England

The Bank of England was founded in 1694 to be the private banker to the government, mainly to help fund England's war with France. In 1725, the Bank of England, which controlled the national debt, began to print paper currency that was used throughout England. In 1946, the Bank of England was nationalized, which technically allowed the government to give bank directors specific orders, though the Parliament has never used those powers.

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#7. Coutts

- Year founded: 1692
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: Kingdom of England

Coutts traces its roots to John Campbell, a goldsmith who also offered banking services, in London in 1692. But the name Coutts was not a part of the bank until 1755 when Scottish banker James Coutts partnered with Campbell's son; when Campbell the younger died in 1760, the bank's name was changed to James & Thomas Coutts. The bank's more than 300-year history and its connection to monarchs and English elites has kept it as a powerful wealth management brand for centuries.

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Håkan Dahlström // Flickr

#6. Barclays

- Year founded: 1690
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: Kingdom of England

In 1690, two Quaker goldsmith bankers in London began a thriving banking business powered by their position as something of an official banker to Quaker merchants. In 1736, James Barclay joined the firm that would eventually carry his name. In 1967, Barclays unveiled the first ATM in the world. The bank also has a close sponsorship relationship with England's Premier League.

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Johannes Simon // Getty

#5. Metzler Bank

- Year founded: 1674
- Country: Germany
- Historic country: Frankfurt

Metzler Bank, or Bankhaus Metzler, was initially founded as a cloth trading company by Benjamin Metzler in 1674. Like many of the original private banks, Metzler used his position as a trader to lend and collect commission. It was in 1760, under the stewardship of Christina Barbara Metzler, the merchant banking firm refocused into a more traditional bank. Incredibly, over its more than 340-year history, Metzler Bank remains family owned and run.

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Elliott Brown // Flickr

#4. C. Hoare & Co

- Year founded: 1672
- Country: United Kingdom
- Historic country: Kingdom of England

Hoare & Co. was founded by Richard Hoare in 1672 and is the oldest remaining private deposit bank of the era. To put the bank's age in perspective, it was founded before there were street names in London; it was identified as the business near “Sign of the Golden Bottle.” Today, the bank is still owned by the Hoare family—the English private bank has been operating for almost 350 years.

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Sveriges Rikes Standers Bank // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Sveriges Riksbank

- Year founded: 1668
- Country: Sweden
- Historic country: Sweden

Founded in 1668, Sveriges Riksbank is the oldest central bank in the world. Initially known as Riksens Ständers Bank, it was conceived by Sweden's leaders to make sure currency would be stable. In 1904, the Riksbank was given the exclusive right to print Swedish currency. In 1999, the bank was given independence from the Swedish government in order for Sweden to enter the EU. Incredibly, the bank has been in continuous operation for over 350 years.

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nitpicker // Shutterstock

#2. Berenberg Bank

- Year founded: 1590
- Country: Germany
- Historic country: Hamburg, Holy Roman Empire

The Berenberg family first started a trading company in 1590, but it was Cornelius Berenberg, born in the 1620s, who took it over and turned it into a force in Hamburg. The Berenberg Bank has always been privately owned, and its partners have always had personal liability. Today, the Berenberg family owns 30.4% of the bank.

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#1. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena

- Year founded: 1472
- Country: Italy
- Historic country: Siena, Grand Duchy of Tuscany

The world's oldest bank was founded in the Tuscan city of Siena in 1472 with the goal of providing loans for the city's poorest citizens. The bank has been an institution in Italy for a half-millennium, at one point having its savings guaranteed by the Medicis. But in recent years, the bank has began to sputter, with a questionable acquisition in 2008 and market manipulation scandals in 2013. The bank has been bailed out a few times by the Italian government and has seen its stock price plummet as it has been called out by the European Central Bank. Known as “Daddy Monte,” the oldest bank in the world is not in great shape these days.

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