The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is the oldest international financial institution. It was originally established as a joint stock company in 1930 to administer the financial management of the Young Plan, established in relation to German war reconstruction obligations. Its head office is in Basel, Switzerland and it has two representative offices: in Hong Kong SAR and in Mexico City. The MNB has been a shareholder of the organisation ever since. The BIS’ capital is held by central banks only. The BIS currently has sixty-two member central banks and monetary authorities all of which are entitled to be represented and vote in the General Meetings. Voting power is proportionate to the number of BIS shares issued in the country of each member represented at the meeting.
Through regular meetings of governors and experts of central banks, the organisation became an important forum for co-operation and exchanging information between central banks. Within the framework of international co-operation, the BIS conducts important research activities, collects a wide range of statistical data in the area of international finance, and gives its recommendations to the international financial community for further strengthening the international financial system. The BIS provides banking services to central banks, such as foreign reserve management and transactions involving gold. It also provides banking and fund management services for international financial institutions.
Governors and other senior officials of BIS member central banks hold bimonthly meetings, usually in Basel, to discuss current developments and the outlook for the world economy and financial markets. They also exchange views and experiences on issues of interest to central banks. The Governor of the MNB attends the bi-monthly Governor’s Meetings regularly, where the most current issues of the international financial system are discussed. Experts of the MNB participate in seminars and experts' meetings organised by the BIS as well.
The BIS collects a wide range of information mainly for central banks, but it also publishes this information on its website, e.g. financial statistical data, speeches of central bank representatives, working papers. The Central Bank Research Hub operated by the BIS is facilitating access to research publications from the community of central banks and international financial institutions.
The BIS hosts standing committees to support central banks, and authorities in charge of financial stability more generally, by providing background analysis and policy recommendations:
- Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS): provides a forum for regular cooperation on banking supervisory matters. Its objective is to enhance understanding of key supervisory issues and improve the quality of banking supervision world-wide;
- Committee on the Global Financial System (CGFS): identifies and assesses potential sources of stress in global financial markets, to facilitate the understanding of the structural underpinnings of financial markets, and to promote improvements to the functioning and stability of these markets.
- Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI): establishes and promotes global regulatory/oversight standards for payment, clearing, settlement and other market infrastructures, and monitors and analyses developments in these areas.
- Markets Committee: monitors developments in financial markets and their implications for central bank operations.
- Central Bank Governance Forum: examines issues related to the design and operation of central banks to foster the good governance of central banks as public policy institutions.
- Irving Fisher Committee on Central Bank Statistics: addresses statistical issues relating to economic, monetary and financial stability.
The BIS together with the Basel Committee established the Financial Stability Institute (FSI) in 1998, which helps the work of the supervisory authorities and contributes to the stability of financial systems.
The BIS Innovation Hub (the “BISIH”) is a major new initiative of the BIS, officially announced in June 2019. The BIS Innovation Hub will foster innovation and greater collaboration amongst the central banking community globally and enhance the understanding of financial technology. Headquartered in Basel, the BISIH comprises, as part of its initial phase of operations, three Centres, one in Switzerland with the Swiss National Bank, one in Hong Kong SAR with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and one in Singapore with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.