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Commonwealth Bank celebrates its Centenary year

$100 million committed to the Australian community over the next 10 years

UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 12:00pm September 26 2011, Sydney: Since its establishment in 1911, Commonwealth Bank has never wavered in its focus in supporting Australian communities to build a sustainable future for generations to come. Today, in a continuation of this tradition and to celebrate its Centenary year, the Bank has announced it will increase its investment into Australian communities, committing an additional $100 million over the next 10 years.

Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Officer Designate, Ian Narev, highlights how this unprecedented investment will be allocated:

“By committing an additional $100 million over ten years we are able to make a far reaching and enduring difference to the lives of Australians. These funds will help expand our Staff Community Fund, where we will match our staff’s regular salary contributions to children’s charities dollar for dollar. We will also build on our tradition of helping generations of young Australians through the Commonwealth Bank Foundation, which cultivates the financial literacy skills of young Australians.

“The funds will also go towards providing increased support to our people, who will dedicate more of their time and expertise to help community organisations, making an even greater difference to the communities we all live and work in.”

To look back at the last one hundred years is to review a century of significant progress in the nation’s infrastructure and economy. Commonwealth Bank is proud to have supported this growth, whether it be on the Trans Australian railway (1912-1917), where a Commonwealth Bank officer travelled 60,000 miles by horse to set up savings accounts for workers, allowing many the means to buy homes when the railway was complete; providing funding to enable mining in Broken Hill, developing much needed jobs; or the Mobile Banking Trucks of the 1950s, which provided banking services to newly arrived migrants docking at Fremantle. 

Commonwealth Bank has also led the way in the digital banking sphere, pioneering innovative technology to simplify the lives of Australians. From Ledger Posting Machines (1925), which eliminated the need to handwrite individual transactions; to Black Light Signature (1969) that enabled customers to make withdrawals at branches other than their own; to the technological leaps and bounds of ATMs (1981), EFTPOS (1984), Phone Banking (1987), CommSec (1995), the first online banking platform -NetBank (1997) and more recently, Mobile Phone Banking (2009).

One hundred years on, Commonwealth Bank is proud to offer the largest network of mobile lenders, ATMs and branches of any bank in the country. Looking to the future, the Bank is already pioneering augmented reality applications for Smartphones, and has future proofed its banking platform, to bolster the significant pipeline of innovation expected in the next decade.

However, at the heart of this progress has remained a dedicated focus on the Australian people, including educating kids in financial literacy with the nation’s largest school banking scheme, providing a leg up to those who dream of owning their own business and helping families buy their first home. As Australia’s leading Bank with over 11 million customers, 800,000 shareholders and over 52,000 employees, Commonwealth Bank is determined that the community remains at the core of the next 100 years.

Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Officer, Ralph Norris, concludes:

“We have been active in the community for 100 years and, being the Commonwealth Bank, we are determined to make a difference to Australian communities for the next 100 years and beyond.”


Centenary Key Dates:

  • On 25th October 1911, Mr Andrew Fisher, Prime Minister and Treasurer, introduced into the Federal Parliament the Commonwealth Bank Bill. Through almost universal support the Bill was passed on Friday 22 December 1911. The capital of the Bank was nominally fixed at £1,000,000 but in fact it had no capital – only the guarantee of the Commonwealth Government.
  • On 15 July 1912, the Savings Bank opened its doors at 10am. The first person to open an account was the Prime Minister, Mr Andrew Fisher.
  • The first branch of Commonwealth Bank of Australia was at Modern Chambers, 317 Collins Street, Melbourne and it was supported by 489 Post Office agencies throughout Victoria. By January 1913, Commonwealth Bank had branches in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Townsville, Hobart and London as well as 1,839 different agencies.

Media contact:

Louisa Galligani

Public Relations Advisor

P (02) 9118 1784

M 0468 987 335