Our History

Standard Chartered Bank stands as a proud witness of the rich history of the Philippines, being the first foreign bank that was established in the country in 1872. Its name reflects the wealth of its heritage here and around the world. The bank's global foundation was built 150 years ago from its former name, The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China and was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1853 in England. Overseas branches were then established in Calcutta, Bombay and Shanghai, followed by those in the Philippines (1872), Malaysia (1875) and Thailand (1894).

Early operations in the Philippines saw the bank financing machinery imports of the booming agricultural industries such as sugar, hemp, coconut, and shortly after copper, pig-iron, anchors, cordage, tobacco, coffee, and rice. Its first Manila premises was the shabby lower story of a house in Binondo, the financial district at that time, whose upper floor was used as a kindergarten. The Manila operations consisted chiefly of the granting of accommodation secured upon export produce, imported merchandise, and promissory notes. As worldwide demand for Philippine produce grew in the 1890s, Chartered Bank granted fixed loans to leading firms against sugar, hemp, copra, tobacco and coffee. It also financed shipments of sugar to China, Canada and London; copra to Paris; and hemp to New York. Much of the produce pledged to the bank were stored in Iloilo and Cebu.

Notable of the early accounts of the bank's high reputation is a historical note about the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal. While pursuing advance studies in Paris at the time of the Revolutionary Movement during the Spanish regime in the country, Dr. Rizal wrote to his parents in 1886, saying:

"The day before yesterday, I received a draft of $200 which when collected in Francs gave me only 192, so 4% is lost. With more reason than ever, I repeat to you now what I have told you. If you are to send me money, do it by The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China which is much better. Had you sent me those $200 through that House, they would have given me some 204 or 205 Francs."

In 1887, the banking industry as a whole took a dip in fortunes. During the late Spanish period, however, Britain was the Philippines' largest trading partner, accounting for some 27% of exports and 33% of imports. Effects of the execution of Dr. Rizal included the end of the Spanish regime and the entry of the American forces into the Philippines. With this came the many changes in the business and the financial sectors. Through these all, The Chartered Bank was actively progressing with its operations.

At the end of the Spanish regime, only four banks were allowed by the Americans to operate in the Philippines with combined resources standing at P40 million. The Chartered Bank was one of these four banks. When the Americans offered Emilio Aguinaldo $400,000 to go into exile, the money was paid by a demand draft drawn on a bank in Hongkong. After that the balance was transferred to The Chartered Bank in Hongkong and placed on deposit for two years at two per cent interest.

Upon the ascension of the new Philippine government, Standard Chartered became one of the two depository banks for the government's money. They held this distinction until 1916. World War II brought new hardships to the bank. Its branch in the Wilson Building was frequently rocked by the constant bombing raids directed at the ships docked on the Pasig River near the building. In 1942, at the time of the Japanese occupation, all foreign banks were forced to close down, as well as to declare and surrender all their assets. Unfortunately for The Chartered Bank, the building was claimed by the Japanese as their Treasury Headquarters. But because of foresight, the bank officials were able to evacuate a number of their gold bars to the island of Corregidor.

Although the Japanese occupation left the Philippine banking system in a state of almost total collapse, The Chartered Bank was the second bank to re-open on July 23, 1945 at the SJ Wilson Building branch. At that point of history, General Banking Act 1948 limited the presence of foreign banks to the existing number of branches each had. Thus, The Chartered Bank in the Philippines was limited to its offices in Cebu, Iloilo and Manila, with the Zamboanga office long been closed.

The year 1969 was marked as a historic year when The Standard Bank and The Chartered Bank formed into a merger into what is known today as the Standard Chartered Bank. In 1972, the Manila branch moved to a larger, and more modern premises leased from the Philippine National Oil Company in Makati. This move happened after 25 years of staying in the Trade and Commerce Building since the end of the war.

The year 1977 saw the successful transformation of a Foreign Currency Deposit Unit which was authorized to accept deposits in foreign currencies and to make foreign currency loans.

Recognizing its commitment to the Philippines, the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas upgraded the status of Standard Chartered into a Universal Bank in 2001. Through the years, Standard Chartered has made worthwhile contributions to the development of the Philippines and played a key role in helping fuel the country's trade, economy and markets.

Leveraging on a global presence and more than 150 years of successful banking heritage in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Standard Chartered delivers innovative, award-winning financial services solutions to power our corporate clients' ambitions. Our success - and that of our clients - is a direct result of our local expertise and strong domestic presence across our network in emerging markets. We provide a wide range of products and services for personal and corporate customers across 71 countries.

As we strive to be the world’s best international bank, it is important that we conduct our business to the highest standards and be guided by our core values. In doing so, we act in an open, innovative and collaborative manner to advance the best interests of our clients.

Our brand promise, Here for good, underpins everything we do. It guides how we do business and the decisions we make.

Our Global Presence

We've operated for over 150 years in some of the world's fastest-growing markets. We aim to lead the way in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Learn about our global business »

Here for good

Here for good is the essence of who we are. It's about sticking by our clients and customers through good times and bad, and always trying to do the right thing.

Find out how we are Here for good »

Back to Top