The Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China (C.B.I.) was founded in London in 1853 by Scotsman James Wilson following the granting of a Royal Charter from Queen Victoria.
The first branches were opened in Calcutta and Bombay in 1858. The bank was keen to capitalise on the huge expansion of trade and to earn the large profits to be made from financing the movement of goods from Europe to the East.
In 1859, C.B.I. opened a branch in Hong Kong and two years later in Singapore. In 1862 the bank was authorised to issue banknotes in Hong Kong, a privelege it continues to exercise to this day.
The bank’s expansion continued into the 20th century, leading it to open branches across Asia. The traditional business of C.B.I. was in cotton from Bombay, indigo and tea from Calcutta, rice from Burma, sugar from Java, tobacco from Sumatra, hemp from Manila, opium from Shanghai and silk from Yokohama.
In 1957, C.B.I. acquired the Eastern Bank, giving it a network of branches in Aden, Bahrain, Beirut, Lebanon, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China merged with the Standard Bank of South Africa in 1969, and the combined bank became the Standard Chartered Bank.
The Bank began by using full name overprints on the early King George V issues. The initials only overprints used later, are far more common. The C. B. I. handstamps on Foreign Bill stamps also probably served as a security device.