chapter  3
32 Pages

Competitive advantages in British multinational banking since 1890

Dimensions and institutions Multinational banking on a large scale originated in nineteenthcentury Britain. 'Overseas banks' began to be formed in the 1830s. The first of these banks established branches in British colonies in Australia, the West Indies and North America; by the 1850s and 1860s, banks were also being formed to operate in India, the East, South Africa and Latin America. The banks were usually the product of initiatives from business groups or merchants in the intended area of operation allied with banking or other interests in the City of London. Their distinctiveness lay in the combination of banking products they offered. Like British merchant banks, they provided international banking services, especially trade finance. However, unlike the merchant banks which conducted their business through networks of interlocking partnerships and correspondent relationships, the British overseas banks also operated branches in foreign countries and British colonies through which they undertook domestic banking2.