Savings bank

A savings bank is a financial institution whose primary purpose is accepting savings deposits and paying interest on those deposits.

They originated in Europe during the 18th century with the aim of providing access to savings products to all levels in the population. Often associated with social good these early banks were often designed to encourage low-income people to save money and have access to banking services. They were set up by governments or by socially committed groups or organisations such as with credit unions. The structure and legislation took many different forms in different countries over the 20th century.

Savings banks and savings-and-loans are often confused. The original function of savings banks to service consumers was limited to savings. Savings banks invested in government and corporate debt. Savings and loan associations had a dual purpose which gave more importance to home loans. Towards the end of the 20th century their functions blurred as savings banks issued mortgages.

The advent of Internet banking at the end of the 20th century saw a new phase in savings banks with the online savings bank that paid higher levels of interest in return for clients only having access over the web.