The industrial and agricultural revolution gave new impetus to the cooperative movement. Mutualism emerged from the fervent intellectual, economic and social atmosphere of the nineteenth century. In the financial field, it served as an original response to a need for investment and solidarity, and thrived naturally in the fields of banking, insurance and social protection.

Crédit Mutuel began life in the Rhineland in 1849, when Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen founded the Flammersfeld farmers' aid society to combat usury. However, that first initiative did not satisfy all the aspirations of its founder. While it helped in combating rural misery, it failed to foster a real community of interest between lenders and borrowers. While transactions were carried out at interest rates that were respectful of the borrowers, the governance system did not truly match up to Raiffeisen's vision of strengthening the cohesion of local communities and allowing everyone the opportunity to participate.

It was this disappointment that prompted him to create the first cooperative local banks, which were founded on the principle of shared responsibility and a strict equality of power between members: every member, whether a lender or borrower, a well-to-do property owner or a poor farmer, had one vote, could be elected as a director of the bank and was accorded the same status and level of responsibility as each of his fellows. To avoid all forms of internal competition that could endanger his project, Raiffeisen also required each bank to work within a specific geographical area. Similarly, the fact that the directors were unpaid provided proof of their dedication to the cooperative approach.

This time his project was a success. In 1882, the « Raiffeisen model » crossed the border with the creation of the Caisse de La Wantzenau, a local bank near Strasbourg (an attempt in La Petite-Pierre a few years earlier had met with failure).

The foundations of Crédit Mutuel were already taking root:

  • loans granted only to members;
  • responsibility shared between all members;
  • a democratic structure based on the principle of one member, one vote;
  • no restrictions on membership;
  • no payment of directors;
  • small geographical areas;
  • no distribution of profits;
  • no distribution of reserves.

In 1901, the local banks were classified as non-profit organizations and shortly thereafter were united under a federation. Under the Law of September 10, 1947, they were given cooperative status. Only with the Order of October 16, 1958 was the organization of Crédit Mutuel definitively laid down. The Order defined the status of the local banks along with that of the Confederation to which the regional federations have belonged since 1959.

Today, the Crédit Mutuel Group has 2,064 Crédit Mutuel local banks, 19 federations and five federal banks that cover all French regions and are members of the Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel. In 1984, the Confederation was recognized in law as the central body responsible for the systemic stability of the Crédit Mutuel network and for the group's unity and proper operation.

Key dates relating to Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale

  • 1849
    Crédit Mutuel begins life in the Rhineland when Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen founds the Flammersfeld farmers' aid society to combat usury. He goes on to found the first local cooperative banks, based on the principles of shared responsibility and a strict equality of power between members: one vote per member, whether lender or borrower.
  • 1882
    The « Raiffeisen model » crosses the border with the creation of the Caisse de La Wantzenau, a local bank near Strasbourg.
  • 1947
    The local banks are classified as non-profit organizations and shortly after unite to form a federation.
  • 1958
    The Order of October 16, 1958 lays down the modern organization of Crédit Mutuel. The Order defines the status of the local banks and that of the Confederation to which the regional federations have belonged since 1959.
  • 1984
    The Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel is recognized in law as the central body responsible for the systemic stability of the Crédit Mutuel network and for the group's unity and proper operation.
  • 1993
    The Crédit Mutuel Centre Est Europe and Sud-Est federations form the Caisse Fédérale Commune, the foundation of what is today Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale.
  • 1998
    CIC is acquired by Banque Fédérative du Crédit Mutuel (BFCM).
  • 2002-2012
    The Ile-de France (2002), Savoie-Mont Blanc (2006), and Midi-Atlantique (2009) federations join the Caisse Fédérale. In 2011, the Loire-Atlantique et Centre-Ouest, Centre, Normandie, Dauphiné-Vivarais and Méditerranéen federations join to form CM10, which becomes CM11 with the arrival of the Anjou federation in 2012.
  • 2018
    At the end of the year, the name CM11 is dropped and the name « Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale » is adopted for the body formed by the 11 Crédit Mutuel federations, Banque Fédérative du Crédit Mutuel (BFCM) and its subsidiaries
  • 2020
    On January 1st, the Antilles-Guyane and Massif-Central federations join Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale.
  • 2020
    In October, Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale becomes the first bank to adopt "benefit corporation" status.
  • 2020
    In December, Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale strengthens its 2019-2023 strategic plan to engage even more closely with its members and customers.