The history of the Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten cannot be viewed separately from the history of its islands, and their banking and currency history.
From an economic point of view, Curaçao and the other Dutch dependencies, such as Aruba and Bonaire, had no significance at the beginning of the 19th century. Except for products such as salt and wood, the islands were completely dependent on imports. Even the discovery of gold on Aruba was of little significance. The West Indian Company was unable to profit from this discovery in any way.
Curaçao, as an open port, was the meeting place for the exchange of raw materials coming from Latin America and the Caribbean and destined for Europe. The Europeans, on the other hand, traded their products with merchants from Latin America and from Curaçao. As a result, several foreign currencies circulated on the islands. Curaçao operated financially on the basis of Spanish coins, such as the piastre or pillar dollar, and the Portuguese golden Joe, used for large payments. Various small French, German, or Prussian coins circulated as small change. The traders exchanged these foreign gold and silver coins for goods in the so-called trade houses. Because Curaçao's, imports were greater than its exports, the islands regularly experienced a shortage of money, or rather of coins. To obtain especially small change, the coins were cut into smaller segments for smaller values. In Curaçao the Spanish dollar, also called the pillar dollar, was cut into 4 or 5 segments and stamped with a 'star' or the numerals 21. The cut coins, known as Guillotines, were worth fifty cents. Today a shortened version of its name, 'yotin,' refers to a coin worth 50 cents.
Merchants made cunning use of the shortage of coins by speculating. They made and distributed their own value notes in the form of credit notes, which they circulated at high interest.
The use of different coins and credit notes resulted in a rather chaotic financial situation in the colony. This situation was a thorn in the flesh for King William 1st, who dreamed of making Curaçao the center for all trade between the Dutch Kingdom and America.
In 1826 the King proposed the establishment of a bank to organize the Colony's financial affairs. Two years later, on February 6, 1828, the Bank was established. The bank was housed in the Garrison Fort of the West Indian Company, now known as Fort Amsterdam, where the government administration also was located. Three clerks, employees in the General Accounting Department, were appointed for the administration and accounting of the newly established bank. Thus, the Bank became part of the Financial Department as a state bank and did not have an official name.
The objective of the Bank was to promote trade within the colony of Curaçao by issuing credit to merchants. Furthermore, the Bank acted as a government cashier, making payments to the private sector on behalf of the government.
The Bank was popularly known as the "Bank van Leening" or "Credit Bank."