In 1819 the Viennese priest Johann Baptist Weber and a consortium of philanthropic citizens found the first Austrian Savings Bank, with the aim of helping poor people save money and gain financial independence.
Open Tuesdays & Fridays
This is where it all started. Open only for a few hours on two days of the week, the St. Leopold church in the 2nd Viennese district is where the less affluent come to deposit or withdraw their hard-earned cash.
From the very beginning the bee, an old symbol for saving and frugality, is used to promote the Savings Bank slogan "work, collect and increase". It can still be found on our headquarter building.
How the Bee flies!
Over time, the savings bank idea spreads from Austria to other parts of Austro-Hungarian empire and beyond. To commemorate our own Erste Oesterreichische Sparkasse's 50th anniversary, Eduard Strauss, brother of the even more famous Johann, is commissioned to compose the "Bee Polka".
Crisis? Been There, Done That.
Throughout its history, what is now Erste Group has seen many hard times.
As in the year of 1873, when the stock market crashed. But each time our group emerged strong and healthy, steadily growing over the decades.
ERSTE During NS Times
In 1938 Austria becomes part of Hitler's "Third Reich". The Austrian savings banks are incorporated into the German savings banks organisation and, according to the new laws, employees are deposed for reasons of race or political affiliation.
On the way to the electronic age
After the war, the economy slowly gains momentum again and in the 1960s Erste modernizes its entire organisation. The computer comes to stay.
From Savings Bank to Erste Bank
The 1970s see a change in consumer habits. Austria becomes one of the richest countries in the world and people want to not only save their money, but also to spend it. A change in the savings banks law allows "Die Erste" to become a general bank. Expansion begins, even beyond the Austrian boarder.
Going East - Again
In 1997 Erste Bank starts its expansion into an area where its predecessors, then independent savings banks, had already gone in the past. First Hungary, then the Czech Republic, later Croatia, Slovakia, Serbia and even Romania and Ukraine become markets for our group. In each country Erste acts as an international brand with strong local ties.
Acquisition of 52.07% of Česká spořitelna a.s.
Erste Bank acquired a majority stake of 52.07% in Česká spořitelna, the biggest retail bank in the Czech Republic. The acquisition was another important step in Erste Bank's strategy to become the leading retail bank in Central Europe.
Majority share holdings in Slovenská sporitel’na a.s.
Erste Bank became the majority shareholder (87.18%) of Slovenská sporitel'na in the Slovak Republic. The acquisition of the largest Slovak bank was a logical further step in the strategy of the enlarged internal market in Central Europe.
Erste Bank takes over Romanian BCR
Erste Bank bought 61.88% of Banca Comerciala Romana S.A. (BCR), the biggest bank in Romania. With a little over 2.8 million customers and 12,000 employees, the Bank is an ideal addition to the existing Erste Bank network in Central and Eastern Europe. In the last years Erste Bank also built up and increased the presence in Hungary, Croatia and Serbia.
The separation of the Holding and Erste Bank Oesterreich took legal effect. The registered company name of the Holding is "Erste Group Bank AG". Ever since, the registered company name of split-off Erste Bank Oesterreich is "Erste Bank der oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG".
Like everything in life also businesses and companies are part of the evolutionary process. Social, economical and cultural environments change constantly and 2014 was the time for us to refresh the brand which represents our group. The new designs also represent who we are, how we do business and how we want our customers to experience banking with us.
Erste Group moved into its new headquarters, the Erste Campus, at the end of 2015. Approximately 5,000 employees who had been in more than 20 locations are now working under one roof. The Campus itself impresses with its open, curved architecture.