Panama’s Oldest Bank: Banco Nacional de Panamá

El Banco Nacional de Panamá (National Bank of Panama) is the oldest bank in the Republic of Panama.  It is the official bank of the country.  Founded in 1904, it performed several roles typical of a traditional central bank, albeit it can’t print paper money, since the American Dollar is the legal tender in Panama.  Panama’s official currency, the Balboa, is used only for Accounting purposes.  In the final analysis, Panama does not have a traditional central bank like other countries do.

The history of the BNP is closely related to Panama, as a sovereign state.  It was founded six months after the birth of the nation under the name—Banco Hipotecario y Prendario.

After signing Law 74 of June 13, 1904 by then President, Manual Amador Guerrero, the entity legally became the economic and financial arm of the young nation.  With an initial investment capital of only 500,000 US Dollars, the economic and financial institution opened its door to the general public on October 12, 1904.

Beyond offering mortgage loans, the nation’s official bank received deposits from farmers, ranchers and businessmen.  It also offered loans to its customers that became the seed capital of the newly born republic which separated from Colombia on November 3, 1903.

In 1911, the name of the bank was changed to Banco Nacional de Panama, and consolidated itself as the main engine of domestic growth and development—mainly agriculture and cattle raising projects.  By 1919, the first provincial branches were installed.  The ball was rolling across the country, and incidentally, the Panama Canal was being built by the United States.

The general headquarters of the BNP operated in four different locations:

In 1904 the bank operated in Calle Quinta Catedral until 1938 when it moved to Calle Séptima Central.  In 1956, the headquarters was moved again to Plaza Porras, and finally on February 24, 1978, to its final home in an elegant tower in Via España.

Below are several pictures of a branch of the BNP located in Calle 7a, Central which was once the general headquarters of the financial institution.  It is a remarkable historic building worth preserving for future generations.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

The mosaics on the upper section of the building represent the inauguration of the Panama Canal in 1914 and the discovery of the South Sea (Pacific Ocean) by Vazco Núñez de Balboa in 1513.

Photographs taken with a Fuji X-30 mirrorless camera.  Good Day.

Source:  Banco Nacional de Panamá


4 thoughts on “Panama’s Oldest Bank: Banco Nacional de Panamá”

    1. My hope is that the building is preserved for as long as the construction materials will endure the tear and wear of time. The building was in a pretty good shape when I was there about three weeks ago.

      The tiles indeed are gorgeous.



  1. Hola Omar,
    I passed by these wonderful buildings when I would meet Nena leaving her work at the store, Taboga, on Central Avenue. Of course, today those buildings are 40+ years older and are historic, indeed. (So, why am I not historic? haha)

    Great photos, as always, and wonderful memories.
    jim and nena

    1. Hola Jim and Nena:

      Well my friend, I think you will be historic to your family and friends. Me thinketh. 🙂

      Yes, I remember the store “Taboga” on Avenida Central. I lived for about two years at Plaza Herrera, so this whole area is very familiar to me.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the images Jim. Pictures of the past always stirs our imagination and memories.



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