The roots of banking in Malaysia can traced back to the existence of the British merchant communities in Penang and Singapura dating back to the 19th century when what was known as the Straits Settlement, a standalone British colony encompassing Penang,Singapura and Melaka was established in 1867. Penang’s strategic location and port facilities quickly become a springboard for banks-Mercantile Bank (later a subsidiary of the Hong Kong Bank, and now HSBC) set up office in Penang, Chartered Bank(now Standard Chartered) in 1875 followed by Hong Kong Bank in 1884 .
Chapter 2- Natural resources fuel commerce and banking
The choice of Penang was a natural one- it was a commercial centre for tin activities in Perak and Selangor. Other forms of commerce also flourished with the rise in the Chinese immigrant population into the peninsular. Rubber trees quickly became a major cash crop, by 1908, a quarter of a million acres of land were converted into rubber plantations. The tin and rubber business were a major impetus for growth of banks-local or foreign in the first decades of the 20th century.
Chapter 3 early buildings
Some of the most iconic symbols of the vibrant banking scene of the early 20th century were early bank buildings. While many did not survive more than several desades, there were many fine example which symbolized a prosperous Malaya even in the early 20th century. Similar ornate buildings were built in Ipoh, Klang, Sungai Petani and many more.
Chapter 4 changing façade
With time and advances in modernity, the façade of the bank as well its look and feel, changed over time. Advances in banking services and the need for better functionality led to striking changes in bank buildings especially after the Second World War. The ornate Victorian-era inspired facades disappeared in the 1950s onwards as new trends took over.
Chapter 5 new functionalties give rise to a new look
New influences and...