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Credito Cooperativo

The Credito Cooperativo is a system based on a network comprising 271 cooperative banks called Banche di Credito Cooperativo, Casse Rurali, and Casse Raiffeisen in Alto Adige.
The most important feature of these cooperative banks (BCCs) is that of being local, mutual, not-for-profit cooperatives.
BCCs, which are found throughout the length and breadth of Italy, have served local communities for the past 135 years, promoting development and meeting their social and economic needs, as stated in article 2 of the BCC Corporate Statute: “The Bank aims to serve the interests of its stakeholders and members of the local community through the provision of financial operations and services, to improve their moral, cultural and economic conditions, promoting collaboration and teaching the benefits of saving and forward planning as well as encouraging social unity and responsible, sustainable growth in the surrounding territory. The Bank distinguishes itself through its support for the community and its commitment to further the common good.”
The BCCs are double faceted banks: they act as financial intermediaries, with their fundamental activities of loans and savings accounts, and as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) companies.
Hence BCCs offer all of the banking services normally offered by other financial institutions. However, BCCs differ from other banks in a number of ways; first and foremost in that their primary objectives are the wellbeing of their stakeholders and the development of the local economy.

Credito Cooperativo facts and figures

271 BCCs (data at 30 september 2018) with about 4.238 branches

1.290.641 members

29.680 employees work for the Credito Cooperativo

There are BCC banks in 101 provinces and 2.644 municipalities


Total Funding (funding from financial institutions, funding from non-financial institutions, bonds): €192,4 billion
Loans: €159,9 billion
Total Equity (capital + reserve): €19,5 billion (+0,0%) 

(Data from 30 September 2018)

A history dating back 135 years

The BCCs (called Casse Rurali e Artigiane until 1993) were founded in the late nineteenth century as a new form of credit system in the same vein as the model developed by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen in Germany, based on localism and inspired by Christian ethics.

The first Italian cooperative bank, Cassa Rurale di Loreggia, was opened in 1883 by Leone Wollemborg, in the province of Padova. In 1890 a young priest named don Luigi Cerutti founded the first Catholic Rural Bank in the province of Venice.

The encyclical Rerum Novarum of 1891, written by Pope Leo XIII, became the manifesto of a widespread social movement; and by 1897 there were 904 Casse Rurali e Artigiane banks.

During the fascist period – following the introduction of the Banking Law of 1937 – many of the cooperative banks were ordered to close. After the war, the advent of the Italian Republic and Article 45 of the Italian Constitution which acknowledges the social role of mutual cooperatives, saw the relaunch of Casse Rurali e Artigiane banks.

In 1950 Federcasse (Federazione Italiana delle Casse Rurali e Artigiane), originally founded in 1909, was reformed, going on to become a member of Confcooperative in 1967.

Iccrea (Istituto di Credito delle Casse Rurali e Artigiane) was founded in 1963, with the aim of facilitating, coordinating and augmenting the services offered by the individual cooperative banks through financial intermediation and assistance.

In 1993 the Casse Rurali e Artigiane banks changed their name to Banche di Credito Cooperativo (BCCs). In the same year the Consolidated Banking Law (Testo Unico Bancario) came into force, lifting the legal limitations which had previously governed the banking operations of cooperative banks. The BCCs were then able to offer all the services and products of other banks and to extend them to anyone, whatever their profession, working or residing in the catchment area of the bank.

During the nineties the Credito Cooperativo was reorganised and in 1995 Iccrea Holding S.p.A was founded as the parent company of Gruppo Bancario Iccrea. The latter also comprises a number of subsidiary companies which supply the BCCs with a vast range of financial products and services.

In 1997 the Depositors’ Guarantee Fund of the Credito Cooperativo (Fondo di Garanzia dei Depositanti del Credito Cooperativo) was formed. This fund is an obligatory financial instrument to protect the depositors of the BCCs in the consortium.

In 2004 the Bondholders’ Guarantee Fund of the Credito Cooperativo (Fondo di Garanzia degli Obbligazionisti del Credito Cooperativo) was formed. This financial instrument protects the credit rights of BCC bondholders. The BCCs are the only banks in Italy to offer such a guarantee.

In 2016 the Credito Cooperativo system was interested by an important reformation law. By the law, all the Italian Co-operative Banks are obliged to join a Cooperative Banking Group. The Italian law reform bill introduces the new figure of Cooperative banking groups with the aim of making the member banks increasingly safe and efficient. The law stipulates that Banks have the majority of the capital of the parent company of the new Cooperative Bank Group. At the same time, membership of the Cooperative Banking Group allows the BCC to be part of a system of cross-guarantees, in order to prevent any critical situations.

In 2019 start new Cooperative Banking Groups: Cassa Centrale Banca (based in Trento) comprising 84 BCC; Iccrea Banca (based in Rome) comprising 142 BCC. In the region of Alto Adige, the 39 Raiffeisen Banks can choose to set up an IPS (Institutional Protection Scheme) as an alternative to joining a Cooperative Banking Group.

Corporate Social Responsibility & Co-operative Banks (European Association of Co-operative Banks-EACB)
Responsibility and solidarity have been integral parts of the co-operative banks' activities since their creation and are in harmony with the co-operative principles and identity.
Corporate Social Responsibility is in fact a new word for old co-operative practices or Co-operative Social Responsibility.
Co-operative Banks Best CSR Practices (download file)