The central bank for French territories in Asia, Banque de l'Indochine is created upon the initiative of several private banks (Comptoir d'Escompte de Paris and Crédit Industriel et Commercial, later joined by Société Générale and Crédit Lyonnais). It helps further French interests in Asia by opening a number of branches in places such as Saigon (1875), Hanoi (1886), Phnom Penh (1890), Hong Kong (1894), Shanghai (1898), Singapore (1905) and Djibouti (1908). It plays an active part in Chinese lending in the early 20th century, then in developing Indochina.
With the Great Depression of the 1930s, Banque de l'Indochine becomes a merchant bank. After the colonial regime begins to come to an end and the bank relinquishes its right to issue currency in 1947, it successfully refocuses on the Middle East (Saudi Arabia in 1948 and Lebanon in 1951) and South Africa (1949). It sets up a location in New York in 1947.
In the 1960s, it develops its merchant banking and international trade finance activities. It blazes new trails, establishing Locafrance, the first French leasing company (1961), then factoring company Facto France Heller (1964). After some stock market turmoil, it joins Compagnie Financière de Suez Group in 1972, which led to the creation of Banque Indosuez in 1975.