to 2010, a financial and economic crisis gripped the United States, Europe and
the world. 7 million Americans and 2 million Europeans lost their jobs, and 10
million were pushed below the poverty line. Thousands of families lost their
homes, and many lost their savings. A global recovery from the effects of the
crisis will take years.
a result of the crisis, social banking and social finance have become important
trends among bank customers in Europe. In fact, European social banks are the
big winners of the crisis, growing by more than 20% per year and doubling their
assets between 2007 and 2010. The crisis transformed social banks from niche
institutions to large, publicly visible players. This success is due to the
conviction of a growing number of bank customers in Europe that social banking
is a less speculative and more responsible, ethical, and community-oriented way
to deal with money than traditional banking. In the aftermath of the crisis,
many see social banking as less egoistic and more caring for the overall
progress of society than mainstream banking. Thus, social banking may provide
important lessons for the banking and finance sector as a whole, in order to
avoid further crises in the future.
order to see what can be learned from social banking, let us first take a look
at what social banking is; second, review the most important social banks today;
and third, examine lessons from the success of social banks.