HSBC has made significant contributions to the establishment of solid foundations for Thailand’s financial and banking sectors. For example, in 1889 HSBC issued the first banknotes in Thailand. HSBC also issued the first foreign loan to the Thai government for its railroad construction project. HSBC has always been a major driving force behind Thailand’s commerce and economy.
Throughout the past 130 years HSBC has based its standard services on an in-depth local knowledge and a true recognition of the Thai people’s changing needs. HSBC is committed to its goal to be the best bank and a key driving force for the Thai economy and Thai society.
Today, HSBC provides a comprehensive range of financial and banking services to corporate customers.
HSBC was established as the first commercial bank in Thailand on 2 December 1888 as Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation during the reign of King Chulalongkorn. Its first office was located at “the old Belgian Consulate” on Charoenkrung Road.
The bank introduced the first banknotes into Siam in 1889 with the permission of Siamese authorities. The currency notes were issued in denomination of one, five, 10, 80, 90 and 100 ticals (baht) which were used widely to pay debts and taxes among customs officials and other government offices. When the Bank of Thailand issued its own banknotes in 1902, the amount of the Bank’s banknotes in circulation decreased gradually.
In 1890, the bank moved to a Roman-style building, known today as Tanam Si Phraya, which was also the site of a luxury hotel called The Oriental for 87 years. The office building was declared officially open by HRH Prince of Chandaburi, then the Minister of Finance.
The first public overseas loan to the Siamese government was issued in 1905 for the announced purpose of railway construction. The government, under the advice of a British financial expert, wished to retain a minimum treasury balance of 22 million baht. Railways were of a high priority in the unification and centralization of the Kingdom, and therefore the decision was made to borrow abroad.
The Siamese Ambassador in Paris approached two banks – one British, HSBC, and one French, Banque de I'Indo-Chine, the French and British issued bonds were to rank pari passu and the loan was issued in both London and Paris in March 1905. The actual signing of the agreement was celebrated with a dinner at the Savoy for 20 people including the Siamese Ambassador to Paris, Phraya Suriyanuwatr.
In 1977, the Bank moved from Tanam Si Phraya to Siam Center Department Store.
In 1982, the Bank moved to the HSBC Building on Silom road for 20 years until 2001.
On 9 February 2001, the bank moved to its current location of the HSBC Building on Rama IV road.
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HSBC’s Leanne Cutts discusses the value of sports and cultural partnerships to the bank.
Why is HSBC’s Global Head of Research planning to travel across Europe in an electric car?
Hong Kong harbour, Chinese artist, early 1860s
Staff in Fuzhou, China, 1887
Portrait of Thomas Jackson, around 1890
Chinese railway bond certificate, 1907
Staff in military uniform, First World War
Hong Kong building, 1965
Prison camp diary of HSBC staff member Max Haymes, 1943
Hong Kong garment factory, around 1950
Persian banknote, early 20th century
UK cash machine, around 1970
HSBC office, New York, 1999
HSBC lion, London, present day
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited opened in Hong Kong on 3 March 1865 and in Shanghai one month later. It was the first locally owned bank to operate according to Scottish banking principles.
By 1875 HSBC was present in seven countries across Asia, Europe and North America. It financed the export of tea and silk from China, cotton and jute from India, sugar from the Philippines and rice and silk from Vietnam.
By 1900, after strong growth under Chief Manager Thomas Jackson, the bank had expanded into 16 countries and was financing trade across the world. Bullion, exchange and merchant banking were important features of the bank’s business.
In the early 20th century, HSBC widened the scope of its activities in Asia. It issued loans to national governments to finance modernisation and infrastructure projects such as railway building.
The First World War brought disruption and dislocation to many businesses. By the 1920s, however, Asia was beginning to prosper again as new industries developed and trade in commodities such as rubber and tin soared.
The 1930s brought recession and turmoil to many markets. Nonetheless, HSBC asked architects Palmer and Turner to design a new head office in Hong Kong: “Please build us the best bank in the world.” The cutting-edge art deco building opened in 1935.
The bank faced one of its most challenging times during the Second World War. Staff in Asia showed huge courage in the face of adversity. Many became prisoners of war. Only the London, Indian and US branches remained in full operation.
At the end of the war, HSBC took on a key role in the reconstruction of the Hong Kong economy. Its support helped established manufacturers as well as newcomers to Hong Kong grow their business.
By the 1970s the bank had expanded through acquisition. HSBC bought Mercantile Bank and The British Bank of the Middle East in 1959. In 1972 it formed a merchant banking arm, extending its range of services.
In the 1980s HSBC bought Marine Midland Bank in the US. In 1992, the newly created HSBC Holdings plc made a recommended offer for full ownership of the UK’s Midland Bank. Following the acquisition, HSBC moved its headquarters to London.
In 1998, the bank announced it would adopt a unified brand, using HSBC and the hexagon symbol everywhere it operated.
As new markets blossom and flourish, HSBC continues to be where the growth is, connecting customers to opportunities. The bank enables businesses to thrive and economies to prosper, helping people fulfil their hopes and dreams and realise their ambitions.