The Credito Cooperativo is a system based on a network comprising 381 cooperative banks called Banche di Credito Cooperativo, Casse Rurali, and Casse Raiffeisen in Alto Adige; associative structures; and several service companies, all of which work together to guarantee a complete and diversified range of products, in keeping with the values and identity of a cooperative.
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 131 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
381 BCCs with about 4.460 branches
Over 37.000 employees work for the Credito Cooperativo
There are BCC banks in 101 provinces and 2.711 municipalities
Total Funding (funding from financial institutions, funding from non-financial institutions, bonds): €195 billion
Loans: €135,6 billion
Total Equity (capital + reserve): €20,2 billion (+0,8%)
(Data from June 2014)
The Organisational structure of the Credito Cooperativo
The Credito Cooperativo is composed of an associative structure and a corporate system.
The associative structure
The associative structure is subdivided into three levels: local (BCCs), regional (Local Federations) and national (Federcasse).
The individual BCCs are associated with the Local Federations (representing one or more regions) which in turn are members of Federcasse, the Italian Federation of BCCs. Federcasse represents and protects the rights of its associated banks, offering them legal, fiscal, and organizational assistance, while providing support in communications and training so as to benefit the entire Credito Cooperativo system.
There are fifteen Local Federations:
Federazione Piemonte Valle d´Aosta Liguria delle BCC
Federazione Lombarda delle BCC
Federazione Cooperative Raiffeisen
Federazione Trentina della Cooperazione
Federazione Veneta delle BCC
Federazione Friuli Venezia Giulia delle BCC
Federazione Emilia Romagna delle BCC
Federazione Toscana delle BCC
Federazione Marchigiana delle BCC
Federazione Lazio Umbria Sardegna delle BCC
Federazione Abruzzo e Molise delle BCC
Federazione Campana delle BCC
Federazione Puglia e Basilicata delle BCC
Federazione Calabrese delle BCC
Federazione Siciliana delle BCC
A history dating back 130 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 2008 the Institutional Guarantee Fund of the Credito Cooperativo (Fondo di Garanzia Istituzionale del Credito Cooperativo) was formed to protect BCC clients; safeguarding the liquidity and solvency of the banks through measures of corrective action, financial support, and crisis prevention.