Bank of Australia
The Bank of Australia, originally known as the Bank of New South Wales, opened in April 1817 in Sydney, Australia due to the instrumental influence of Governor Lachlan Macquarie and Judge-Advocate John Wylde.1
Prior to the formation of the bank, the colony of Australia had a shortage of reliable currency. Therefore, with trade commodities (such as crops), many settlers paid for these commodities with rum, which led to an increase in alcoholism and poverty. As more settlers continued to arrive in the colony and agricultural development increased, the need for a stable form of currency became more urgent.2
With Governor Macquarie's arrival in Sydney in 1810, the need became ever more apparent as he observed that main infrastructure such as the Sydney to Liverpool road had been paid for with 400 gallons of liquor. In March 1810, three months after Macquarie's arrival, the opening of a formal bank was proposed; however the British government initially denied the proposal. It was not until the arrival of Judge-Advocate John Wylde that there was a true impetus for change concerning the bank.3
On 8 April 1817, the bank finally opened in rooms it rented from an ex-convict. In 1822, the bank relocated to larger premises. The gold rushes in the 1850s led to major expansions of the bank, from one branch in Sydney in 1851 to 37 branches in Australia and New Zealand ten years later. It continued to function as an independent bank until 1982 when it merged with the Commercial Bank of Australia and later became Westpac Banking Corporation as it is known today.4
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