Our Bank's History

Foundation of Our Bank

Upon adoption of the occidental models in trade and finance by the Ottoman Empire in the first half of the 19th century, foreign banks started operating within the territory of the country. Capital accumulation that is adequate for the establishment of a banking system of a national nature had not formed in the country in that period and presence of national banks as a tool for creating funds could not be spoken of.

The section of the society that suffered from this situation the most was farmers, who made up a large majority of the population; as a large group of farmers having a hard time making ends meet in the agricultural sector, which was completely left to its fate, was in need of loans from private individuals all the time due to lack of a corporate structure, to which they could apply. Creditors were various tradesmen and craftsmen such as tradesmen selling agricultural equipment, wholesalers, exporters, commissioners, middlemen, and convenience store owners, as well as money Lenders who acquired this as a profession. This type of high interest rate loans from private individuals were called Usurer or Usuary Loans. “State Cases” ( Memleket Sandıkları) were named after wooden cases (“sandık” is the Turkish word for “case”) in which money collected was saved in wooden cases and lent to farmers to be returned during harvest.

Affairs of the cooperatives were managed by 4 cooperative custodians consisting of 2 Muslims and 2 Christians selected by the participant villagers. Journals, in which daily procedures were written down; ledgers, in which all accounts were registered; and ready cash were kept in these wooden cases. Later on, these cases were replaced by primitive cases made from iron by the foremen in the area for security reasons.

Upon entry into effect of the “State Case Regulations” in 1867, state cases went into action all over the Ottoman Empire (Rusçuk, Eski Cuma (cities in Bulgaria) and Nicosia state cases were the first examples), and rendered services successfully for many years.
2/3 of the profit from the cases that remained after deducing expenditures from revenues obtained  from credit facility procedures was used in the construction and restoration of publicly available basic requirements in the respective areas the cases were located in such as schools, roads and bridges. From this aspect, state cases also contributed to the town planning of the country. However, the degeneration observed in the functioning of the state cases in the following years reduced the efficiency thereof. Thinking that it could reduce the negativities by subordinating the cooperatives to the central administration, the government established “Cases for Public Benefits” (Menafi Sandıkları) in 1883 in line with the same purpose. Upon introduction of Cases for Public Benefits; administration was rearranged, recoding and accounting procedures started being carried out in line with modern and scientific standards, and were subjected to direct inspection by the central government. Although this new structuring brought in relatively businesslike functioning that is open to scientific inspection, it could not suppress the need for a completely new and modern organization.

The idea of and tendency to organize the current organization in the form of a bank developed when the facts that the Cases for Public Benefits did not satisfy the needs, a revision was essentially required from the administrative aspect, and their resources were limited were added; this issue was thought about in all seriousness by Abdul Hamid II, as well.  In the minutes submitted by the Grand Vizier Kamil Pasha to the Cabinet and Abdul Hamid II, the necessity for the abolition of Cases for Public Benefits as they could not function anymore and establishment of Ziraat Bank instead was written down. Upon entry into force of the minutes in question with the confirmation and approval of Abdul Hamid II; Ziraat Bank, a modern financial institution that would succeed Cases for Public Benefits, was officially established on August 15, 1888 and Cases for Public Benefits that were active in that period were transformed into bank branches and went into action. Public benefit shares, which constituted the financial resource for Cases for Public Benefits until that day, were transferred to the bank and the next funds were also allocated to the capital of the bank. A new era of organized agricultural credits in our history was entered into after such step was taken.

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Our Bank's History

Ziraat Bank In The War Period

In the 1900s, when the economy gradually worsened, the Ottoman Empire lost its territories first in Tripoli and then in the Balkans. The big world-embracing war that broke out in Europe was bringing a 600-year-old empire near the end. 
It was in those hard times that a new law was made about Ziraat Bank on March 23, 1916. Article 1 of the law read as: “Ziraat Bank has been founded to provide convenience for farmers and serve the development of agriculture.”. Ziraat Bank could issue bonds to this end; get into partnerships with agricultural enterprises; obtain seeds, animals, agricultural implements etc. and give such to farmers for cash or against a loan; and distribute the land it had bought to farmers when necessary.

A war of life and death that will last for about 3 years began under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, who went to Anatolia upon invasion of the capital city of the empire by the allies. Battalions of Kuva-i Milliye (national forces) that started forming in Anatolia within the framework of national struggle were in need of financial support. It was necessary to assist the treasury, local governments and military units which were deprived of sufficient resources.  It was in that period that cash benefits were provided by the branches and cases of Ziraat Bank and notes were taken against each cash benefit provided. The bank organization did not abstain from providing financial assistance in earnest to the holy struggle within the bounds of possibility. Ziraat Bank rendered significant services to the Treasury during the War of Independence, and gold belonging to the bank was secretly brought from Istanbul to Ankara upon instruction by Mustafa Kemal. Again, Ziraat Bank supported the War of Independence by sending a good part of its personnel to the front.

Ziraat Bank endeavored to contribute not only to those commanding such holy struggle but also to all Turkish villagers taking part in the independence movement to the extent possible with such assistance provided by its branches.
While Regulations on the Obligations of the Agricultural Society made upon a directive by Mustafa Kemal Pasha specified the principles of assistance to be provided by the bank to the families of farmer soldiers fighting at the front, it assigned to Ziraat Bank the task of distributing the agricultural tools and equipment and seeds at the customs.


Bankamız Tarihçesi

 “Kinin” – the most and only medication known for malaria, which was the epidemic of the period and led to loss of lives of the highest number of people in Türkiye as was the case all over the world in those days- was also distributed to people by Ziraat Bank. The malaria epidemic reached disease proportions in 1924. Villagers left their fields and left their reaping hooks and harvests in the lurch. The entire nation, both the poor and the rich- in towns and in the cities was affected by this disease. The government started sending Kinin, which was a medication used for protecting people from malaria and treating patients with malaria, to the provinces to be distributed to the poor. While kinin that was bought from abroad was imported by the Ministry of Health, Ziraat Bank assumed the responsibility of distributing the kinin that was imported. Kinin was distributed by the branches of Ziraat Bank by keeping bookkeeping entries. Employees of Ziraat Bank made remarkable effort throughout and after the entire War of Independence to fulfill the difficult tasks they took on in a perfect manner despite the limited resources they had.

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Our Bank's History

Increasing Number of Branches and Ziraat Bank's Role In the Post-War Period

Number of branches and cases of Ziraat Bank, which was responsible for assisting those working in the agricultural sector, was increased from 110 to 300 in 1923. The bank was provided with a capital worth about TL 2 million in that period and the bank started providing loans to territories -especially those that were saved from the enemy- extensively.

In a country which was burnt up, destroyed and in poverty in the 1920s; industrial enterprises, the number of which were already low before the war, had become unfunctional, individual initiative-based bench work had disappeared, and transportation had almost come to a stopping point. Number of branches of Ziraat bank was increased in a very short period of time and the credit facilities thereof were developed so that these difficulties could be overcome.

The bank was transformed into an Incorporated Company with the budget law of Ziraat Bank enacted in TGNA in March 1924.

Ziraat Bank made great contributions in terms of overcoming the negative effects caused by the economic crisis that affected the whole world in 1929 and the subsequent World War II with the least damages possible. In those hard times when even bread was rationed, the state was implementing compulsory savings policies and encouraging everyone to do the same. And Ziraat Bank provided people with various opportunities for deposits in order to motivate them to make saving. Bringing up a prudent generation was aimed at with the home safes introduced again in this period. Various agricultural courses aiming at increasing productivity by teaching farmers new agricultural techniques were also opened with the contributions of Ziraat Bank in the same years.

Ziraat Bank, the status of which was changed to state enterprise with a law enacted in 1937, was provided with the opportunity to provide more unconstrained services when partial autonomy in its management was granted to it. Again based on the same law; Istanbul Assurance Case, which was founded by Mithat Pasha in 1868 for the transfer of small savings into small investments, was incorporated into the bank.

Bankamız Tarihçesi

Resources and utilities of Ziraat Bank were always taken into consideration while planning new moves in the field of agriculture to develop villages and villagers after 1905, when the negative effects of the war started fading away.

The bank has always managed to overcome the difficulties it has encountered thanks to its rooted structure, management that is based on firm principles, and experienced and educated staff. Number of branches providing services all over the country reached 630 in 1963.

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Our Bank's History

Leads in the Agricultural Sector

Making rapid progress in every field, the Bank led the introduction of a new era in Turkish agriculture when a Turkish-American company, of which it was a partner, produced the first domestic tractor. Replacement of ploughs and wooden plows by tractors and combine harvesters, use of chemical manure instead of natural manure, provision of healthy and productive seeds, and assistance provided for the struggle against pests were new steps taken and moves made on this. Assistance was given to investments made on field improvement and irrigation. Loans provided in the field of fruit growing ensured development of fruit growing and diversification of exports. Resources needed by cooperatives established as a result of organization of farmers were supplied with the resources of the bank. Pasture improvement, development of meat and dairy farming by aiding breeding animal import  and establishment of industries relating thereto were ensured.

Loans that were promotive in many fields from beekeeping to silkworm breeding were provided with the means of Ziraat Bank.

Financial support was given to the manufacturing of agricultural machinery and equipment, which were crying needs for the villagers. In this way, various modern agricultural machinery and equipment previously observed in state farms only started being used in private agricultural areas with the cheap credit facilities of the bank and became popular rapidly. By this means; production increased, fields were rendered ready for another plantation and farmers were provided with the opportunity for a second harvest.

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Our Bank's History

The Bank of All Times

Having proliferated its services in time in order to be the bank of everybody and all walks of life, Ziraat Bank continues developing its activities to add value to the country.

Ziraat Bank, which was founded as a modest cooperation fund in 1863, now ranks among the most valuable assets in the country.

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Milestones of Our Bank's History

  • Homeland Funds, the foundation of today's Ziraat Bank, is founded by Mithat Pasha in the town of Pirot (November 20).
  • The first agricultural loan application is started, with a term of 3-12 months and a limit of 20 lira per person.
  • Homeland Funds Regulations take effect.
  • The first legislation in our country regulating organized credit systems.
  • Government grants permission to two foreign citizens to found a Ziraat Bank in the vilayet of Edirne, however the venture proves unsuccessful.
  • Bank makes first attempt to enter into foreign partnership.
  • Benefit Funds replace Homeland Funds.
  • "Benefit Share" duty added to the Ashar tax, providing the funds with a constant and stable financial resource.
  • The funds take on a strong and permanent structure.
  • Ziraat Bank Regulations take effect (August 28).
  • Ziraat Bank General Directorate opens (September 17).
  • Mikail Portakalyan appointed General Director of Ziraat Bank.
  • First deposits accepted in return for interest.
  • Ziraat Bank, with nominal capital of 10 Million Lira, comes under government auspices as a state institution controlled by the Ministry of Trade and Public Works.
  • Bank inspection services start to be carried out by own inspectors.
  • First loan to the Treasury.
  • Bank activities come under more active supervision.
  • Ziraat Bank Law is promulgated (March 23).
  • Emil Kautz appointed as General Director.
  • Cash advances granted to agricultural enterprises in return for loans, bonds, and securities.
  • First government bond sale made.
  • "Cash Deposit Notes", precursors to Certificates of Deposit, are issued.
  • First mass postponement of agricultural receivables.
  • First seed loans issued.
  • Greek authorities occupying Izmir establish a separate Ziraat Bank Headquarters to control all branches and funds in occupied territory.
  • Money was taken from Ziraat Bank funds and used to outfit the soldiers of the National Forces, formed during the War of Independence, meeting the corps' expenses.
  • The occupation takes its toll on the bank organization.
  • Parliament in Ankara announces that all branches and funds in territories under the Parliament's control are to be administered from the Ankara Branch of the Ziraat Bank (April 23).
  • Thus, Ziraat Bank takes its place in the National Struggle.
  • On June 23, 1920, Ahmet Kemal Ilgaz is appointed General Director.
  • On December 6, 1920, Hüseyin Avni Şuşud is appointed General Director.
  • Ankara takes control of Izmir operations (September 9). Ankara takes control of Istanbul operations.
  • Success of the National Struggle reunifies the bank (October 23).
  • Abdülkadir Zeki Güçlü is appointed General Director.
  • On October 13, 1923, Emil Kautz is appointed General Director.
  • First deposit receipts issued.
  • Parliament enacts the Budget Law No. 444, with the purpose of freeing Ziraat Bank from the political control of governments who had used its resources to finance short-term requirements, returning the bank to the control and administration of its true owners the farmers, and expanding the activities of the bank that had previously been limited to agricultural loans (March 19).
  • The bank's divisions are established as follows: General Assembly, General Assembly Investigators, Administrative Council, and Public Directorate.
  • Prof. Leon Morf is appointed General Director.
  • With the Budget Law, Ziraat Bank is converted from a state institution to a joint-stock company.
  • "Law on the Organization, Administration and Audit of Entirely State-Capitalized Economic Entities" is passed to expand the authority of the General Assembly.
  • The Board of Auditors provided for in Law No. 3202 is removed in Law no. 3460, with its duties transferred to the Prime Ministry Supreme Auditing Board.
  • Nusret M. Meray appointed General Director.
  • Bank comes under the supervision of what is now called the High Supervisory Council.
  • The 198-article Charter of the Agricultural Bank of the Republic of Türkiye (TCZB), for which Law No. 3202 had made provision, is completed and takes effect.
  • The TCZB Charter puts on the agenda a substantial restructuring in the units of the General Directorate.
  • The "Law on the Organization of the Inspection of Public Economic Enterprises by the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye" brings the "General Assembly" into being, as well as the "Public Economic Enterprises Joint Commission" acting for Parliament.
  • Duties of the Supreme Auditing Board are assumed by the Prime Ministry Public Supervisory Council.
  • Hamburg Agency is opened.
  • In Cyprus, Lefkoşa (Nicosia), Gazimağusa (Famagusta), and Güzelyurt (Morphou) Branches are opened.
  • With a new Board of Directors decision, Regional Directorates were established in the Aegean (Izmir), Marmara (Istanbul), Central Anatolia (Ankara), East Anatolia (Erzurum) and Southeast Anatolia (Diyarbakır) regions "for the purpose of taking the necessary steps for the efficient and effective administration of Ziraat Bank's extensive countrywide organization, to closely monitor activities, and ensure that decisions taken at the General Directorate are implemented completely and correctly in the branches."
  • Rise in branch numbers necessitates a transition from central to regional administration.
  • Rahmi Önen is appointed General Director.
  • Ziraat Bank Museum is opened in the General Directorate Honor Hall to exhibit our bank's history.
  • Museum is the first banking museum in Türkiye.
  • New York Agency becomes a branch.
  • Duisburg, Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, and Rotterdam Agencies opened.
  • "Bank 86" project, adapting developments in technology to banking services for faster, better quality, and more productive services, is introduced to 7 branches in Ankara and Istanbul, transitioning to an automated environment.
  • Antalya and Mersin Free Zone Branches founded.
  • Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) Directorate founded.
  • Ş. Coşkun Ulusoy is appointed General Director.
  • Loan support appropriate to aspects of the region starts to be provided to producers in the GAP region.
  • Ziraat Bank ranks 452nd in Euromoney magazine's list of Top 500 Banks by Equity Capital.
  • A region is evaluated separately in agricultural support for the first time, laying the foundations of a new philosophy.
  • School of Banking opened to train the quality personnel required by the bank.
  • Through other participating banks led by Bankers Trust International, 140 million dollars of floating-rate bonds without Treasury guarantee payable in July 2001 were released.
  • First Investment Fund (Fund I) established at our bank.
  • Gold sales begin through Ziraat Altın.
  • First consumer loans issued.
  • First credit cards issued.
  • Bingöl-Muş Agricultural Development Project started.
  • Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir Regions External Transactions Branches are connected to the General Directorate as "Remote Work Stations" on the SWIFT-1 System.
  • Private Agricultural Loans, Personal Banking, and Bank Cards Directorates founded.
  • "Self-Service Banking" application initiated.
  • Along with ATMs, the project also featured the first Foreign Currency Exchange Machines, Self-Service Enquiry Terminal, and Audio Message Systems to be commissioned in Türkiye, with the purpose of becoming the first 24-hour "Automated Electronic Branch."
  • Bond purchases begin.
  • Share trading begins.
  • To protect customers of agricultural loans from the simultaneous failure of both creditors and guarantors to meet obligations, insurance starts to be provided through a protocol signed with Başak Insurance.
  • Funds II, III, and IV founded.
  • Dairy Farming Import Project started.
  • Bank demonstrates interest in becoming effective in foreign transactions through transition to SWIFT, and aims to satisfy all segments of the population with new products.
  • Istanbul Exchange Transactions Center opens as part of the Istanbul Branch.
  • One year terms applied to agricultural sector business loans.
  • Ziraat Bank Moscow, Kazkommerts Ziraat International Bank (KZI Bank), Turkmen Turkish Commercial Bank (TTC Bank) and Uzbekistan Turkish Bank (UT Bank) founded and opened.
  • Ziraat Bank ranks 202nd in Euromoney's Top 500 Banks, 41st by net profit, world first in capital profit, and 12th among the 50 Fastest Growing Banks in the World.
  • "Ziraat 2001" project is started on the basis of open system architecture to utilize the developing technology of the day. The project is implemented in 86 branches in Ankara through Microsoft Windows NT and SQL databases.
  • Sofia Branch opened.
  • Stuttgart, Hannover, Frankfurt and Duisburg Agencies begin functioning as branches. The bank's software drive facilitates the provision of new products and services.
  • Number of affiliates reaches 21 by the end of 1999.
  • Osman Tunaboylu is appointed General Director.
  • Foreign currency indexed, spot and day loan applications begin.
  • Skopje Branch is opened.
  • Turkish-Ziraat Bank Bosnia D.D., under the coordination of Ziraat Kart A.Ş., obtains VISA and EUROPAY licensing to begin VISA acquiring and issuing transactions for the first time in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • Berlin and Munich Agencies become branches.
  • Ziraat Bank's organizational network is further expanded.
  • With Law No. 4603 passed on November 25, 2000; Ziraat Bank becomes a joint-stock company.
  • Within the context of the restructuring of public banks, Ziraat Bank undergoes extensive changes starting in 2001.
  • After the crisis in February 2001, public banks starts to be administered jointly by a board of directors led by Vural Akışık.
  • Dr. Niyazi Erdoğan is appointed as Ziraat Bank General Director.
  • Bank's organizational structure is completely transformed to meet the needs of modern banking and international competition.
  • The notion of marketing is added to the bank's operation-focused approach.
  • Emlak Bank is merged with Ziraat Bank and closed.
  • 37 central branches are identified, and some centralized responsibilities delegated.
  • Bank staff begins to be employed in line with private law provisions.
  • Safa Ocak is appointed as Chairman of the Public Banks Joint Administration Board.
  • First post-crisis loans are issued.
  • M. Zeki Sayın is appointed as Chairman of the Public Banks Joint Administration Board.
  • Can Akın Çağlar is appointed as General Manager of Ziraat Bank.
  • Public Banks Joint Administration Board is closed having successfully completed its mission.
  • Prof. Dr. İlhan Uludağ is appointed as Chairman of the Board of Ziraat Bank.
  • Ziraat Bank enters its 145th year.
  • Bank suffers the loss of Chairman of the Board Dr. İlhan Uludağ.
  • Ziraat Bank opens branches in Athens and Gümülcine (Komotini), Greece.
  • Profit of the Century from Ziraat: The bank announces profits of 3.55 billion TL, the largest profit made by any Turkish company to date.
  • Ziraat Bank gains naming rights to the Turkish Cup.
  • Muharrem Karslı is appointed as Chairman of the Board.
  • Hüseyin Aydın is appointed as General Manager of Ziraat Bank.
  • New Organizational Structure was introduced, Segmentation of Branch and Customer was made.
  • Operations Center entered into service.
  • 150th anniversary of foundation of " T.C. Ziraat Bankası" was celebrated.
  • Branch of Batumi/Georgia was opened.
  • The first syndication agreement in the history of "T.C. Ziraat Bankası" was signed.
  • For the first time in the history of "T.C. Ziraat Bankası" issue of debenture stocks at the international markets was realized.
  • Business activity permit for establishing Participation Bank was obtained.
  • Ziraat Bank was the front-runner corporate taxpayer in 2014.
  • Ziraat Participation Bank began its operations.
  • Ziraat Bank Azerbaijan ASC began its operations.
  • Ziraat Bank AD Montenegro began its operations.
  • Ziraat Bank was nominated as the most robust 2nd Bank of Europe.
  • The syndication agreement was signed for the 3rd time (1.1 billion USD - with the participation of 41 banks)
  • Ziraat Bank was chosen as the most beloved bank mark (lovemark) of Türkiye.
  • A new member of Ziraat Finance Group "Ziraat Gayrimenkul Yatırım Ortaklığı A.Ş." officially established and initiated its operations.
  • Among all Turkish banks Ziraat Bank achieved the highest growth in brand value
  • Ziraat Bank became the bank which had improved its brand value the most for the 2nd time in a row.
  • Ziraat Bank was selected as Türkiye's Most Favorite Bank 3rd time in a row in "Türkiye's Lovemarks" research.
  • Ziraat Bank Art Collection "Light and Color" Digital Exhibition met the art lovers in Istanbul Eurasia Show Center.
  • Ziraat Bank was selected as "Türkiye's Most Valuable Banking Brand" in the 2019 research "World's Most Valuable 500 Banking Brands" of Brand Finance.
  • The restoration of the historical Ulus Headquarters Building was completed.
  • The Ziraat Bank Museum, which was renewed during the restoration process of the historical Headquarters Building, was opened to visitors with its new face.
  • Ziraat Bank Çukurambar Art Gallery was opened.
  • Ziraat Bank reached 111 locations abroad.
  • Ziraat Bank was selected as the Most Valuable Banking Brand of Türkiye and and the Second Most Valuable Brand of our country in the research of Brand Finance.