Bank and customer, an increasingly personalised service


BNP Paribas Historical Collections

The history of banks is also the history of how they serve their customers. The relations established with the non business clientèle, constantly evolving, sometimes anticipate social transformations and progress in technology.


From the 1860s, the stilted ceremonial where the banker met with his client behind closed doors, in the privacy of an office, gradually gave way to a more direct relationship.
Banks started looking at ways to increase their clientèle and began opening branches in the high street and in urban customer catchment areas, thereby following the changes taking place in commerce.


The golden age of the counter

Cashier, safe deposit boxes, securities management, private customer loans services: most of these operations and transactions were carried out over the counter. Customers waited their turn and then, standing at the counter, leaned forwards towards a bank clerk seated on the other side. Hardly an ideal position for a convivial atmosphere…
While still relevant a century later, the bank counter had been transformed while the branches multiplied (5,400 branches in 1967 in France, 20,500 in 1981 and 25,500 in 1991). France became the country with the densest banking network: one branch for 1,500 inhabitants.


Agence BNC

Counter of the branch of Charleville-Mézières (France), Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris (CNEP) in 1910 – BNP Paribas Historical Collections


Banking outside, banking sitting down

At the end of the 1960s, advances in data processing had redefined the bank’s relationship with its customers: BNP Paribas quickly developed its park of installed cash dispensers followed by automatic teller machines (ATMs), thereby enabling customers to carry out routine operations outside the opening times of the bank. Henceforth, banks could focus on giving advice and credit and customers were received by appointment in appropriate and more comfortable areas. Today, credit offer simulations can be done on their own tablet so that they can take away all the useful information after the meeting.


Clients de la Bnaque nationale pour le commerce et l'industrie en entretien avec leur conseiller, 1964. Cliché du Studio Chevojon - Archives historiques BNP Paribas

Customers of the Banque nationale pour le commerce et l’industrie  (BNCI) with their financial advisor, 1964 – BNP Paribas Historical Collection, picture of the Chevojon Studio


Guichets automatiques de banque (GAB) au siège social de la BNP en 1991

BNP’s Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) in 1991 – BNP Paribas Historical Collections


Home banking, banking everywhere

Since the adoption of the Minitel in 1983, more and more operations can be done at home. In 1994, Paribas launched “Banque directe”, the first virtual banking service available 24/7 by telephone, fax, mail or Minitel.
This revolution gained momentum with the arrival, in 1997, of Internet at the BNP. The generalisation of mobile devices, phones followed by tablets, also radically changed the way banks do business. In 2009, Groupe BNP Paribas was the first player in the sector to offer bank account management using a smartphone (iPhone). In 2013, the bank launched Hello bank!, an online banking service dedicated to mobility.

The irreplaceable high street bank now co-exists with a thriving online banking activity. It is the customers who decide, at each moment, what level of service they need.


Affiche publicitaire de BNP Paribas dédiée à son offre de banque en ligne, 2006

BNP Paribas’ advertising poster about its online banking services, 2006 – BNP Paribas Historical Collections






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    Well of History

    Since 1822, history has made us a key player and a witness of transformations taking place in society and economy in Europe and around the world. We invite you to share in our story and explore our archives to learn more about our constantly changing world.
    Jean Lemierre Jean Lemierre,
    of BNP Paribas