Alternative Bank Switzerland (ABS) is a sustainability -oriented bank based in Olten , Canton of Solothurn , in Switzerland.

It is situated at the location of the Walter Verlag . Its aim is to maximize profit, but to promote and social and economic businesses.

History and orientation

The Alternative Bank Switzerland (ABS) is the everyday banking for those who want to know what is happening with their money . It was founded in 1990 by several organizations, a union, various charities, among them Greenpeace Switzerland and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and also initiated by the Erklärung von Bern (EvB, renamed „Public Eye“ in 2016) association. Since 1990, the ABS has evolved from an alternative operation to a hierarchically structured company with departments and supervisors. The bank had also to say goodbye to some ideals , so it couldnot support people that make no money, just because they have a <good ethological opinion> . As some years ago, some cooperatively organized enterprises got in bankruptcy after the founding, it was sobering for the bank’s staff. ABS survived this turmoil without saying goodbye to their core values . Regardless, the ABS shares in today’s banking environment Continuously Gained value, so sustainability is aussi Expressed in sustainable growth . [3]

Nevertheless, the ABS threw some strict requirements over the board. They did not want to grant loans for single-family homes, but they would be lost. In order to fulfill their founding goals, the ABS has a private real estate rating, resulting in favorable loans for social and ecological buildings. [3]

Investment strategy

ABS: which stocks should be bought, which titles are all right, which are not? The economist Martin Rohner, director of the Max Havelaar Foundation(Switzerland), has been the ABS Managing Director since 2012. ABS has „green and red lists“ for their investment strategy, the latter including companies dealing with weapons, the nuclear industry, or which earns money with gene technology, as well as porn industry in general. For example, corporations that produce environmentally friendly cars, or a pharmaceutical company, which uses genetic engineering for the purposes of pharmaceuticals and their use in food products. The ABS does not publish its rating list, but for customers, however, this is accessible. Today, after the so-called sustainable, ethical funds. HOWEVER, for the ABS ethical standards are far more than just a marketing strategy. It uses thetriple-bottom-line <People-planet-profit>, ideology, which means a strict adherence to ensuring the economy is a means to an end, and not for earning high profits. Banks should meet the needs of the people, without destroying the world. [3]


In March 2009, eleven ethical banks formed a global alliance to strengthen alternatives to the crisis-shaken financial model. The new network was launched in the Netherlands, and was founding member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values . The members also include Bangladesh (BRAC Bank), Peru (Mibanco), USA (ShoreBank Corporation), Germany (GLS Bank), Mongolia (XacBank) comprising, as of 2009, about 12,000 million Swiss francsassets and seven million customers in 20 countries to form the Global Alliance. Its goals include solidar economic cooperation, long-term action and responsible income . [4]

ABS offers to Their customers a bank account to supporting microfinancing , the so-called Oikocredit Förderkonto in co-operation with international partners. To provide this account, in November 2016 the Netherlands-based Oikocredit announced partnership with ABS. [5] Oikocredit is thus financing partner organizations in over 70 developing and emerging countries. These, for example, grant small loans to women to build up self-employment or loans to small businesses. ABS jointly promotes sustainable development and guarantees the balances on the promotion account to the same extent for a savings account. [6]


The bankruptcy of the banks of the world, which is the result of this strategy, is nowadays generally called Weissgeldstrategie , literally meaning „white money strategy“: [7] All customers from Switzerland and from abroad must declare, that the money they bring to the ABS, is tax paid. For five years, the Alternative Bank Schweiz also reports interest income from non-Swiss assets to the tax authorities of the foreign countries. Customers must give their consent, but if they do not comply, they can not open an account at the ABS. In principle, this corresponds to the automatic exchange of information and more countries of the world to combat tax evasion. [3]

Negative interest rates

The ABS Was the first bank in Switzerland That Introduced negative interest rates for assets on the accounts of Their retail banking customers: From 1 January 2016, They Have to pay 0.125% on the ordinary accounts for private payments. [8] The ABS responded to the introduction of negative interest rates by the Swiss National Bank and, since 1 April 2015, the ABS for the time being. Since end of January 2015, the Swiss banks have paid with National Bank (SNB) an interest rate of 0.75%. [9]

Economy and organization

The balance sheet total grew to 2012 by 10% to 1,120 million Swiss francs. The profit rose by 55% to nearly 6 million Swiss francs in 2012. 90 employees take care of around 33,224 customers as of 2014. Thus, in the national comparison the ABS is a small bank; In comparison, the Raiffeisen bank has total assets of 15,500 million francs, 3.5 million customers and about 8,000 employees. [3] 44% of the ABS management positions are staffed with women, which represents an extremely high rate in Switzerland. [2]

The ABS is organized as an Aktiengesellschaft according to Swiss law. Originally, the founders planned to organizes the bank as a cooperative , aim the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority Did not allow to grant Any new cooperative bank . In fact this legal disadvantage makes it easier for the future as a shareholder. Therefore, the ABS may also award a modest dividend. [3]


  • Caspar Dohmen, Good Bank. Das Modell der GLS Bank , Orange Press, Freiburg, 2011.


  1. Jump up^ Patrick Gunti (2015-04-08). „Martin Rohner, Alternative Bank CEO Schweiz“ (in German). . Retrieved 2015-08-19 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:d „Zahlen“ (in German). Alternative Bank Schweiz (ABS) . Retrieved 2015-08-19 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:f Susan Boos and Ursula Häne (photos) (2012-04-26). „Gute Finanzinstitute: Die Banken, die auch anders können“ (in German). Die Wochenzeitung WOZ 17/2012 . Retrieved 2014-12-14 .
  4. Jump up^ „Global Alliance for Banking on Gegründet Values“ (in German). ABS. 2009-03-13 . Retrieved 2016-11-16 .
  5. Jump up^ „Oikocredit launches banking partnership with social bank ABS in Switzerland“ . Oikocredit. 2016-11-16 . Retrieved 2016-11-16 .
  6. Jump up^ „Oikocredit-Förderkonto“ (in German). ABS . Retrieved 2016-11-16 .
  7. Jump up^ „Wie ernsthaft verfolgen Banken die Weissgeldstrategie?“ (in German). Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen SRF. 2014-07-24 . Retrieved 2014-12-14 .
  8. Jump up^ Jan Baumann (2015-10-16). „Erste Schweizer Bank verlangt Zins für Bankguthaben“ (in German). Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen SRF . Retrieved 2015-10-16 .
  9. Jump up^ „Nationalbank zwingt ABS zum Handeln“ (in German). Alternative Bank Schweizer. 2015-02-24 . Retrieved 2015-10-16 .