Realising dreams for 200 years
We've been helping our customers realise their dreams and aspirations for 200 years.
That makes us proud – because when our customers succeed, we succeed.
Take a journey in time with us through two centuries in the banking business.
Roots dating back to 1820
Our family tree of around 300 banks includes some of the oldest banks in the Nordic region
These banks were pioneers in the establishment of a commercial banking industry
Sparekassen for Kjøbenhavn og Omegn
Föreningsbanken i Finland / Suomen Yhdyspankki
Hans Christian Andersen: from rags to riches
Danish author and fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875) is one of our first customers. When Sparekassen for Kjøbenhavn og Omegn opens in 1820, saving money in a bank is a new phenomenon; the few banks that exist in the Nordic countries during this time are not intended to be used by ordinary people. That changes when savings campaigns spread across Europe, inspired by ideas concerning combating poverty through diligence and thrift following the Age of Enlightenment. H.C. Andersen, who was born poor, also begins saving. When he dies in 1875, he has the equivalent of several million kroner in the bank.
Liquor as security for loans
Norwegian Christiania Kreditkasse’s regulations specify that collateral used to secure loans must fit into the category “not easily perishable goods”. Soon after the bank opens its doors in 1848, people apply for loans hoping that everything from liquor, footwear, herring and cast-iron goods will qualify as security. The first loan application comes from merchant Evensen, who puts up 3,862 litres of vodka, 70 casks of herring and 6,215 pounds of vitriol as security. His loan is granted, but only the liquor is accepted as security. Shoemaker Isaachsen is less fortunate: his loan, with footwear as security, is rejected.
In the 1900s bank tellers make personal visits to customers’ homes to empty their savings boxes. The first Finnish money box is introduced in 1902. Savings boxes are also a success in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
First female branch manager
Esteri Heikinheimo becomes the first female branch manager of a Finnish commercial bank in 1911. In line with common practice in less populated areas, the branch is located in her home. In 1918 Swedish Wermlandsbanken opens a branch in a factory – and the bank manager spends half his time working for the company.
After the First World War, as commercial trade flourishes and cash constantly changes hands, simpler and safer ways to transfer money are needed. Swedish Postgirot, which later becomes part of Nordea, is a pioneer when it launches payment services in 1925. This workplace is also considered one of the most modern in the Nordic countries with a dining room, sun terrace and a sickroom staffed by trained employees.
Mysterious bank manager
When the branch of Kansallis-Osake-Pankki opens in Petsamo, Finland in 1925, the shortest journey to get mail from the headquarters in Helsinki takes 6 to 7 days. There is no vault, but the sporty, resourceful bank manager solves the problem by using a backpack. Customers often wonder why he always has the backpack with him wherever he goes.
Banks serve as shelters
During the Second World War, the staff of Finnish Kansallis-Osake-Pankki’s Hamina branch use the basement of a demolished house as its temporary premises. Despite continuous air raids, customers are always served, no matter what happens. When an alarm sounds, ledgers, archives and money are taken to the boiler room, which also serves as a shelter for both staff and customers.
Bank buses: extra service for pregnant woman
In the 1950s, it is quite common for bank buses to provide services where there are no branches. Although these services are more limited compared to what a branch can offer, one bank bus goes out of its way to provide an extra service: giving a customer and his pregnant wife a ride to the hospital so she can give birth.
Drive-in banks: a short-lived service
Did you know that there were drive-in banks in the Nordic countries as early as the 1960s? Not very popular among customers, the service doesn’t survive for long. The ATM is later introduced, which soon becomes very popular.
In 1964, Norwegian Christiania Bank og Kreditkasse starts an umbrella service at its head office with a sign that says “Borrow when rainy, return when sunny”. This becomes so popular that other branches soon start a similar service.
Mobile banking – 1980s style
Mobile banking is in use in Finland already in 1986, allowing customers to pay their bills and access their accounts with their phones. The service, KotiSYP, is even designed to be used with the first mobile phones, as demonstrated in this video by a sailor out at sea and a lumberjack in a forest. It’s not surprising that the BBC wants to present the service as a future innovation in their Money Programme. A BBC journalist travels from London to test the service in the middle of the Baltic Sea. The service functions very well.
We open an office in Beijing
During the 1990s we establish ourselves in countries east of the Baltic Sea. The first Estonian branch opens in Tallinn in 1995. In 1999 we acquire Bank Komunalny in Gdynia, Poland. The same year we become the only shareholder of a Latvian bank, and a year later we receive permission to start operations in Lithuania.
Nordea is created from the merger of these four Nordic banks
Through mergers, 300 banks are reduced to 80 banks in the 1970s and to 30 banks in the 1980s. By the 1990s, there are only four major banks left. These four banks merge and all operations are conducted under the brand name of Nordea from 2001.
Nordic + ideas = Nordea
Nordea comes from putting together the words “Nordic” and “ideas”. The name signifies how we share and develop good Nordic ideas to create high-quality solutions based on common Nordic values such as openness, equality and caring for the environment.
We open an office in Shanghai as a complement to our Beijing office
New leadership, acquisition of Polish bank
Hans Dalborg is appointed Chairman of the Board and Lars G Nordström new President and Group CEO
We agree to acquire LG Petro Bank in Poland
Biggest internet bank, acquisition of Lithuanian bank
With four million customers using internet services, Nordea is the world’s biggest internet bank measured by payments
We acquire Kredyt Bank S.A. in Lithuania
New CEO, Equator Principles, Russian activities
Christian Clausen is appointed President and Group CEO
Nordea is the first Nordic bank to implement the Equator Principles, a benchmark for the financial industry to manage social and environmental issues in project management
We become the 100% owner of OJSC Nordea Bank in Russia, and the Nordea brand is fully incorporated into all business activities in Russia
CEO appointed head of European Banking Federation
CEO Christian Clausen, representing Nordea and the Swedish Bankers' Association, is appointed President of the European Banking Federation
New chairman, recognition from international body
Björn Wahlroos is elected Chairman of the Board of Directors
The Financial Stability Board, a regulatory unit within the G20 group, recognises Nordea as one of the most important banks for the global economy; we are the only Nordic bank to receive this recognition
New CEO, accelerator programme launched
Casper von Koskull is appointed new President and Group CEO and Torsten Hagen Jørgensen new Group COO and deputy Group CEO
We launch our first accelerator programme, whereby fintech start-ups get a chance to accelerate their ideas in cooperation with Nordea
New digital unit
Nordea establishes a new Group Digital unit as part of our ambition to become a truly digital bank
New leading Baltic bank
Nordea and DNB agree to combine their operations in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to create a leading bank in the Baltics with strong Nordic roots.
New legal structure
Cross‑border mergers between Nordea Bank AB (publ) and its subsidiary banks in Denmark, Finland and Norway take effect as we simplify our legal structure to better reflect the Nordic way in which we operate
New savings app
Nordea Liv and Norwegian fintech start-up Spiff enter into a cooperation agreement to develop a social savings app – with just a few keystrokes, you can set aside money for a trip, your future dream home or your pension
Joining World Economic Forum’s Expert Network
Sasja Beslik, Head of Sustainable Finance at Nordea, is selected to join the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network, which brings together more than 5,000 world-leading experts to improve the state of the world by helping shape the global agenda
IT innovation award
Nordea wins the 2017 Global Retail Banker “IT Innovation of the Year” award for our Simplification programme, part of our ongoing efforts to create a truly digital bank by coming together as One Nordea with common processes, products and systems
Entering the green bond market
We issue our first green bond, signifying our increased ambition level in sustainability
Nordea’s Board of Directors decides to initiate a re-domiciliation of the parent company from Sweden to Finland. Domiciling in a country that is in the banking union means we will be subject to the same regulatory framework as our European peers. There will be no changes in day-to-day operations, and we will continue to focus on delivering value to all our customers.
Apple Pay and Google Pay
We started offering all our customers the option of paying contactless with Apple Pay in the summer of 2018. At the end of October we also started offering Google Pay, now catering to the needs of iPhone users and Android-based device users alike.
Member of the Banking Union
Nordea was re-domiciled to Finland on the 1 of October 2018. As a member of the banking union we are now subject to the same regulatory framework as our European peers. Our new group head office is located in the Vallila district of Finland’s capital Helsinki. Day-to-day operations carry on as usual in all countries.
Principles for Responsible Banking
In collaboration with the United Nations and 27 other banks from around the world, Nordea participates in the launch of the Principles for Responsible Banking at a UN round table summit in Paris. The principles aim to align the financial sector with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. Nordea is the only Nordic bank among the 28 participating banks.
New chairman and acquisition in Norway
In March, Nordea holds the bank’s first Annual General Meeting in Helsinki after the re-domilication. Torbjörn Magnusson is elected new chairman of the board after Björn Wahlroos had declined re-election.
The acquisition of Gjensidige Bank ASA is completed. The transaction underlines Nordea’s ambition to grow in the Norwegian market.
Frank Vang-Jensen new CEO
Frank Vang-Jensen is appointed new President and Group CEO of Nordea on 5 September, after Casper von Koskull had announced earlier in the summer that he would step down.
Nordea signs UN’s Principles for Responsible Banking
On 22 September Nordea is one of 130 banks that sign the new Principles for Responsible Banking. By signing, the banks commit to taking on a crucial role in the work toward a sustainable economy and future.
The Principles are the result of a collaboration between about 30 banks and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), announced in 2018. Nordea was the only Nordic bank among founding banks.
Celebrating 200 years of banking
In 2020 we celebrate our 200th anniversary of helping customers realise their dreams and aspirations. Nordea’s first predecessor bank, Sparekassen for Kjøbenhavn og Omegn, opened on 1 May, 1820.