Founded as Cooperative Joint Stock Credit Institution Limited by Shares in 1871 on the initiative of a number of exponents from the worlds of politics and business. The first branch was opened in 1872. By 1912 the Institute was one of the biggest in the Piedmont and, in the aftermath of the First World War it spread to Genoa, Milan and Rome.
In subsequent years it further expanded its range of services, increasing its presence thanks to new branches in the big cities and in Central Italy. In 1971 it counted around 300 branches and over 55,000 members. In the last quarter of a century, the Institute has expanded into the south of Italy and abroad (London, France, Switzerland and Luxembourg), made equity investments in various credit sectors, heightened its role as universal bank, and floated on Borsa Italiana.
By the end of the 20th century, it had over 500 branches and 100,000 members. A broad reorganisation and streamlining process at Group level followed, which in 2002 led to a merger with Banca Popolare di Verona - Banco S.Geminiano e S.Prospero, to form Banco Popolare di Verona e Novara S.c.r.l. Banca Popolare di Novara is one of the key pillars of the new Banco Popolare Group founded on 1 July 2007.