The founding of the first Portuguese savings bank was executed by neither a legislative act nor a government initiative, but by the action of common people. In 1840, a group of civil servants created a mutual benefit society, named Montepio dos Servidores do Estado (nowadays Montepio Geral), with the aim of providing pensions and dowries to their members or their families. In order to increase the mutual benefit society's financial capacity, its members decided to create a savings bank, which openend in 1844, after the necessary funds had been raised to cover operational costs. They deemed the savings bank should receive deposits from the general public, use them to grant pawn credit, and distribute the net profit among the beneficiaries of the mutual society.
The first Portuguese savings bank was thus founded in 1844. which is late compared to other European countries. Why so late? And what alternative credit and savings solutions, if any, existed previously? These are the main questions addressed by the Author Mr. Antonio Pedro de Sa Alves Sameiro, Secretary General of Montepio.
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To cite this article:
SAMEIRO (Pedro)(2011): Savings Banks in Portugal: Origins and Attributes. ESBG Perspectives n°63, pp. 49-56.