Established in February 1912, Bank of China has the longest history as a commercial bank in China. The bank's function changed three times from 1912 to 1949. From 1912-1928, the bank served as the central bank of China; In 1928 the Bank was changed into an international exchange bank with government license; In 1942, the bank developed into a professional bank in international trade.
After the establishment of People's Republic of China in 1949, the bank was taken of by the new Chinese government. In December 1949, the bank's headquarter was relocated to Beijing. In 1950, the bank was under command of the head office of the People's Bank of China. On October 27, 1953, The Government Administration Council of the Central People's Government published the Banking Regulations of China, stating that Back of China function as the specialized foreign exchange bank of China authorized by the Government Administrative Department of Central People's Government.
In March 1979, the State Council approved the application report for Bank of China's system reform and distributed it to local authorities for implementation. In April 1979, People's Bank of China issued a special notice on the implementation of State Council Approval of People's Bank of China's Request on Reforming the System of Bank of China. The nature and task of Bank of China were made clear in the notice: Bank of China was a specialized foreign exchange bank designated by the State, undertaking unified operation and centralized management of the State's foreign exchange business. Since 1979, Bank of China had practiced three-level accounting system: head office, branch and sub-branch. Funds for business operation should be under unified control of Bank of China Head Office, and Bank of China's local credit funds for foreign trade should be authorized and allocated by Bank of China head office.
Since the Reform and Opening-up, the Bank has achieved outstanding developments in all kinds of business, and has ascended to the top tier of large banks worldwide. At the beginning of 1994, the Bank began to transform from a specialized foreign exchange bank into a state-owned commercial bank in accordance with the national financial system reform.
at the end of 2003, the State Council decided to select Bank of China and China Construction Bank to conduct pilot joint stock reform according to the actual conditions of wholly state-owned commercial banks.
On July 14, 2004, the bank successfully became the sole bank partner of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
On August 26, 2004, approved by the State Council, CBRC, Bank of China Limited was established in Beijing. The establishment of Bank of China Limited was the result of the overall restructuring of the century-old Bank of China, which laid a sound foundation for its IPO in the future. From then on, the bank has introduced strategic investors, and strengthened inner administration, deepened inner reform and practically transformed operation system and achieved big advances.
On June 1, 2006 and July 5, 2006, Bank of China Limited was respectively listed in the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and Shanghai Stock Exchange.
In 2011, the Bank was listed among Global Systemically Important Banks, as the only financial institution from China and emerging markets.