Cooperative bank

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Logo of the Volks- und Raiffeisenbanken in Germany
Raiffeisen bank nose shield
Old logo of the Raiffeisen cooperatives

Cooperative banks are credit institutions that are managed in the legal form of a cooperative or stock corporation and belong to a cooperative banking group. Internationally, they work together in the International People's Banks Association (CIBP) in Brussels .


In Germany, cooperative banks are generally banks in the legal form of a registered cooperative . The approaches of the cooperative banks go back to the principles of self-help , self-responsibility and self-administration of Franz Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch and Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen in the middle of the 19th century. Its purposes were essentially the raising of capital and lending to little people. These two independently founded their first loan associations. In 1850, citizens of Eilenburg founded the first credit union with solidarity . While Volksbanks mainly emerged in urban areas, Raiffeisenbanks were founded in rural areas.

One of the first founding of a cooperative bank took place in Darmstadt in 1862, where the loan association for Darmstadt and Bessungen , which had existed since 1852 , was transformed into a cooperative based on Schultze-Delitzsch's principles on August 14, 1862 and was renamed Volksbank Darmstadt . The Heddesdorf Loan Fund Association is now considered the first cooperative in the Raiffeisen sense. Today most of the cooperative banks still have Volksbank (“Voba”), Raiffeisenbank (“Raiba”), Raiffeisenkasse (“Raika”) or Volks- und Raiffeisenbank (VR-Bank or RV-Bank) in their names . In addition to traditional banking, some Raiffeisen banks still have a small amount of merchandise management operations. At the end of 2008, 480 of the 1,197 cooperative banks operated as Volksbank, 409 as Raiffeisenbank and 167 as Volks- and Raiffeisenbank or VR-Bank.

Based on Section 39 (2) KWG ( Banking Act ), the name “Volksbank” or a name containing the word “Volksbank” may only be newly accepted by credit institutions that are operated in the legal form of a registered cooperative and belong to an auditing association.

In addition, there are some cooperative banks under the names Spar- und Loan (e) nskasse (namely 10) or Sparda-Bank (12), Genossenschaftsbank (8) and Spar- und Kreditbank (also 10). In large cities in particular, there are also cooperative banks that emphasize the place name, such as the Münchner Bank , the Aachener Bank , the Waldecker Bank or the Bank 1 Saar . Finally, there are a few other cooperative banks (69) such as the GLS Community Bank , the Deutsche Apotheker- und Ärztebank , the PSD banks or church banks such as the Bank für Kirche und Diakonie .

Stand of the cooperative banks in Germany

Volksbank Lübbecker Land eG branch in Alswede
Raiffeisen Spar + Kreditbank eG branch in Schnaittach
Branch of the Volksbank Mittelhessen in Naunheim

The German credit institutions can now be divided into three groups: public-law credit institutions , private commercial banks and cooperative banks. The strength of the cooperative banks lies primarily in their nationwide structure. The information available on the market shares of the cooperative banks varies widely; market share is often a question of perspective. In 2005, cooperative banks had a market share of around 24% in current accounts, while measured against total assets, including their top institutions , they had around 18%.

At the end of 2017 there were 915 cooperative banks in Germany with total assets of EUR 891 billion. The cooperative banks had 18.5 million members and over 10,000 branches. The largest regional cooperative bank in Germany is the Berliner Volksbank with total assets of 14.7 billion euros. The largest German cooperative bank in terms of total assets is the nationwide active Deutsche Apotheker- und Ärztebank from Düsseldorf. They are united in the Federal Association of German Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks (BVR).

At the regional level, the shares of the cooperative banks are held by their members. For their part, the cooperative banks largely hold shares in DZ Bank. This provides central service functions for the cooperative banks and is also active nationally and internationally as a commercial bank.

Cooperative banks in Germany are organized in regional and branch associations (Sparda and PSD banks), which, in addition to looking after and supporting the respective regional bank (for example through advisory subsidiaries or educational offers), also ensure that checks are carried out in accordance with the German Banking Act.

IT infrastructure

The IT landscape of the German cooperative banks is looked after by two companies including subsidiaries, which in turn are also integrated into the cooperative financial network:

Business shares

According to § 1 of the Cooperative Society Act , the basic idea is to promote the acquisition or economy of the members through joint business operations .

The acquisition of shares in a cooperative bank usually requires that you are a customer of this bank. In some cooperative banks, shares can also be acquired by non-customers. This is specified in the respective statutes .

Acquiring Membership

Membership is deemed to have been acquired with the following conditions: declaration of membership , admission by the board , payment of the credit and issuing of a certificate .

Shares and credit

Members of a cooperative can participate with the business shares that are regulated in the articles of association of a cooperative. Both natural and legal persons can acquire shares. The shares are tied to the respective person and are withdrawn when the member leaves the cooperative. Depending on the articles of association, a minimum amount of at least 10 percent must be paid in per share. This sum corresponds to the business credit. Business shares and business credit do not have to match. In contrast to a stock corporation, each member has only one vote, regardless of the number of shares they hold.


The amount of the dividend depends on the annual surplus or the balance sheet profit and is approved by the general or representative assembly. Usually the dividend is above the current interest rate level in order to make the shares attractive.

Member duties

In the event of the bank's insolvency , the shareholder is not only liable with his business credit (including shares that have not yet been paid up), but also with any liability amount specified in the articles of association . This is called the obligation to make additional payments .

Termination / bankruptcy and death of the member

The notice period for shares is regulated in the articles of association of the cooperative bank. An extensive formulation reads: “Every member has the right to terminate his membership at the end of a financial year ; The termination must be declared in writing and must be received by the cooperative at least three months (or for example six months) before the end of a financial year , paid off. Membership passes to the heirs upon death and ends at the end of the financial year in which the inheritance occurred. Continuation by the heirs is possible with the consent of the Board of Directors. As a rule, only the original credit balance is paid out, not the portion of the bank's current equity.

Through the law to shorten the residual debt discharge procedure and to strengthen the creditors' rights of July 15, 2013 (Federal Law Gazette I p. 2379), a new § 66a was inserted into the Cooperatives Act with effect from July 19, 2013; then ", the insolvency administrator to exercise the right of termination of the member in whose place if insolvency proceedings over the assets of a member opened and a receiver is appointed." thus, the insolvency administrator granted the right to the ordinary right of termination of the member in whose place exercise - but taking into account the notice period specified in the respective statutes of the cooperative. The new law does not grant the insolvency administrator an extraordinary right of termination without notice. The new Section 66a GenG does not change anything at the point in time at which any dispute credit is paid out; the payment is then made regularly to the insolvency administrator in favor of the bankruptcy estate.


The exclusion of a member is regulated in the articles of association, Section 68 (1) GenG. As a rule, this can only be done if the member has violated the statutes, has given incorrect information about his financial situation or has become insolvent. The exclusion is only permissible at the end of a financial year.

Cooperative banks in Europe









In Austria, a distinction is made between the cooperative banks according to the Raiffeisen system and the Schulze-Delitzsch system .


In Poland, a distinction has to be made between the traditional cooperative banks (Bank Spółdzielczy) and the so-called SKOK (Spółdzielcza kasa oszczędnościowo-kredytowa). The market shows similarities to Great Britain, where a distinction is made between the building societies operating the universal banking business and the credit unions.

Central organizations of cooperatively organized banks:






Regional associations


Smallest bank in Germany

The Raiffeisenbank Gammesfeld

The Raiffeisenbank Gammesfeld ( Hohenlohe ) is one of the smallest banks in Germany in terms of total assets. Fritz Vogt was her only employee for 40 years. He describes himself as a cooperative - not a bank director. 1984 he withdrew from the Federal Supervisory Office for the credit system , the banking license because each bank for the purpose of checks and a second full-time managing need (four eyes principle). Since these personnel costs would unnecessarily reduce the bank's income at the expense of the customers, Vogt complained. After six years he was right, since the employment of a part-time second managing director is sufficient. The credit institute only looks after local customers. Fritz Vogt, born in 1930, has been retired since the beginning of 2008. His bank continues to exist under the new managing director Peter Breiter.

The smallest cooperative bank in Germany is Raiffeisenbank eG, founded in 1905 in Struvenhütten with total assets of around EUR 17 million.

Establishment of a cooperative bank by companies

Due to the 2008/2009 credit crunch , a group of financial experts and industry representatives is working in France to set up a new business bank called the Corporate Funding Association (CFA). 40 companies from France and Germany are to form a cooperative. The companies involved should obtain loans more easily.

See also


  • Journal for the entire cooperative system (ZfgG) . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1.1950 / 51 ff., ISSN  0044-2429 .
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen : The loan association as a means to remedy the hardship of the rural population, as well as the urban craftsmen and workers . Neuwied 1866. ( PDF; 24.6 MB )
  • Katja Bauer: The Raiffeisen Cooperatives' contribution to overcoming usury. (= Cooperation and cooperative contributions from the Westphalian Wilhelms University of Münster. Volume 31). Dissertation. Münster 1993, ISBN 3-7923-0660-3 .
  • Hartmut Glenk: Credit union and supervisory authority as well as examples of bank supervisory measures against the boards of credit unions. In: Genossenschaftsrecht - Systematics and Practice of the Cooperative System. 2nd Edition. CH Beck, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-406-63313-3 .

Web links

Commons : Credit Union  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. History of the cooperative. Originated from an idea . German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Association , accessed on March 12, 2016.
  2. BVR, Federal Association of German Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks, National Association of German Cooperative Banks: Press - Figures, data, facts - BVR - Federal Association of German Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks. Retrieved September 24, 2018 .
  3. Development of the Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken at the end of 2016 ( Memento from March 15, 2017 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Source among other things: Gammesfeld leaves the till in the village . In: Welt online. January 20, 2008.
  5. 40 years of loneliness. on: , January 2, 2008.
  6. List of cooperative banks in Germany - as of the end of 2015 ( Memento from March 24, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Refinancing - company bosses build their own bank. on: , November 17, 2009.
  8. Corporate Funding Association info page ( Memento from August 26, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) en
  9. CFA info page en