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HSBC was established in 1865 to finance trade between Europe and Asia. For over 150 years we have connected customers to opportunities. We enable businesses to thrive and economies to prosper, helping people to realise their ambitions. How a local bank in Hong Kong grew into a global financial institution. In March 1865, HSBC opened its doors for business in Hong Kong, and today we serve around 38 million customers worldwide in 67 countries and territories.
The experiences of the past 150 years have formed the character of HSBC. A glance at our history explains why we believe in capital strength, in strict cost control and in building long-term relationships with customers. The resulting corporate character enables HSBC to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was the first locally owned and locally managed bank. It financed the export of tea and silk from China, cotton and jute from India, sugar from the Philippines and rice and silk from Vietnam.
Bullion, exchange and merchant banking were important features of the bank’s business. It issued loans to national governments to finance modernisation and infrastructure projects such as railway building. By the 1920s, however, Asia was beginning to prosper again as new industries developed and trade in commodities such as rubber and tin soared. Please build us the best bank in the world.
The cutting-edge art deco building opened in 1935. Staff in Asia showed huge courage in the face of adversity. Only the London, Indian and US branches remained in full operation. Its support helped both established manufacturers and newcomers to grow their businesses in Hong Kong. HSBC bought Mercantile Bank and The British Bank of the Middle East in 1959. In 1972 it formed a merchant banking arm, extending its range of services.