In Switzerland, the term cantonal bank denotes a category of retail banks in which cantonal governments hold significant stakes and shareholder voting rights (more than one-third). The shares of cantonal banks are often referred to as peoples’ shares (German: Volksaktien) due to the parastatal status of cantonal banks. An increasing number of cantonal banks now list their stocks on Swiss stock exchanges.
Deposits held in the majority of cantonal banks are fully insured by their corresponding cantonal governments. This sets cantonal banks apart from other retail banks whose depositors are only protected up to the limits applicable to the depositor protection scheme managed by Esisuisse.
Cantonal banks which benefit from a full state depositor protection guarantee by their corresponding cantonal governments:
Aargauische Kantonalbank (AKB), Appenzeller Kantonalbank (APPKB), Banca dello Stato del Cantone Ticino (BancaStato), Banque Cantonale de Fribourg (BCF), Banque Cantonale du Jura (BCJ), Banque Cantonale du Valais (BCVs), Banque Cantonale Neuchâteloise (BCN), Basler Kantonalbank (BKB), Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank (BLKB), Glarner Kantonalbank (GLKB), Graubündner Kantonalbank (GKB), Luzerner Kantonalbank (LUKB), Nidwaldner Kantonalbank (NKB), Obwaldner Kantonalbank (OKB), Schaffhauser Kantonalbank (SHKB), Schwyzer Kantonalbank (SZKB), St. Galler Kantonalbank (SGKB), Thurgauer Kantonalbank (TKB), Urner Kantonalbank (UKB), Zuger Kantonalbank (ZugerKB), Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB).
Cantonal banks which do not benefit from a full state depositor protection guarantee by their corresponding cantonal governments:
The cantonal bank of the Canton of Solothurn – the Solothurner Kantonalbank (SKB) declared insolvency in 1994, and was acquired first by the Schweizerische Bankverein (later rebranded as UBS) and rebranded as the Solothurner Bank (SoBa). It then passed to the Baloise insurance group to form Baloise Bank SoBa.
Swiss cantonal banks participate in a number of joint ventures, including the Swisscanto Collective Foundations and the Swisscanto Vested Benefits Foundation. Agreements between cantonal banks also allow holders of their private accounts to withdraw money at all ATMs operated by cantonal banks using debit cards (such as Maestro) without paying ATM fees. ATM cards can only be used at ATMs operated by their corresponding cantonal bank.
In addition to carrying out standard commercial banking activities, cantonal banks also act as Swiss National Bank agencies.