February 6, 2003 marks the 175th anniversary of the Bank, which was founded by order of King William I in 1828. The Bank van de Nederlandse Antillen is by far the oldest still existent bank of circulation in the Western Hemisphere and the oldest central bank in the world. Starting in 1828 as the 'Bank van Leening', entrusted with the task to provide capital to merchants and agricultural developers in order to promote economic activity, the Banks tasks has changed numerous times in the years of its existence starting in 1907 with the first new bank charter. In this Charter the Bank became the Curaçaosche Bank and a formal monopoly on the issuance of banknotes was granted to the Bank. During the years that followed its function as issuing bank became more important. In 1937, the banknotes in circulation further gained in importance, as the notes were officially considered legal means of payment in transactions involving private parties whereas before it was only officially accepted as a means of payment by the government. This change in the functioning of the Bank has been a gradual process which, on the eve of the Second World War, resulted in the following functions for the Bank: it controlled the number of banknotes in circulation, it serviced the circulation of coins on behalf of the government, it managed the gold and silver reserves and strived to maintain exchange rates within margins acceptable for the commercial banks.
In the space of three decades the Curaçaosche Bank evolved from a general lender into a lender of last resort; from everybody's bank to a banker's bank. In the years from the early 1970s through the early 1980s the Bank transformed gradually from a government department to an independent institution. The independence was deemed necessary to safeguard the value of the Antillean Guilder and to guarantee its convertibility. With its autonomous position, the bank was able to attract and maintain highly trained personnel. Thus the Bank became a center of excellence. In 175 years the Bank has evolved from a near dormant institution in the nineteenth century to a vibrant organization able to adapt to the ever changing financial world in the twenty-first century. 1828-2003: 175 years the anchor of integrity and financial stability.