Bank of America, a financial powerhouse, has humble roots that begin in San Francisco. Its founder, Amadeo Giannini founded the Bank of Italy in 1904 to give immigrants a place to bank at because of other banks denying them service. Two years later, the earthquake struck San Francisco, decimating the city. Giannini managed to get all of the deposits out of the bank and kept them safe from the fires that sprung up. A few days after the earthquake, he started to make loans to those willing to rebuild the city. Here began the evolution of a major banking player, with the creation of thousands of Bank of America accounts to come. The future would see leaps and bounds that Giannini never anticipated, including online banking.
Giannini's banking instincts led him to purchase Banca dell'Italia Meridionale, creating a new bank under the name of Bank of America and Italy in 1922. A few years later, he merged Bank of Italy with Liberty Bank of America for a total 276 bank branches. Another merger in 1928 with Bank of America, Los Angeles created the largest bank in the country. The bank, upon completion of the merger in 1929, changed its name to Bank of America. Giannini was now CEO of the combined company.
However, Giannini was not one to stop at creating the largest bank in the country. He dreamed of building a national bank, and opened branches in the neighboring western states under his holding company, Transamerica Corporation. Regulators had a difference of opinion about his plans, and succeeded in forcing Transamerica Corporation and Bank of America to separate under the Clayton Antitrust Act. The same federal regulators prohibited Bank of America from engaging in interstate banking activity, forcing the bank to sell off all bank branches outside of California. Bank of America had to wait until the 1980s to open up new bank branches in other states.
Seafirst Corporation of Seattle was acquired in 1983, marking the first expansion of Bank of America. A series of setbacks meant that the bank was unable to acquire another big bank until 1992. Security Pacific National Bank, the largest rival to Bank of America in California, became the next acquisition. Bank of America accounts grew as they purchased local banking institutions in other states.
As the bank grew, so did its services offered to customers. The traditional savings and checking accounts have always been available, as well as mortgages. The advent of the Internet gave rise to online banking, giving customers ease of access to their accounts. Bank of America has evolved into a major financial institution, coming a long way from its humble roots.