About TCH
A Look Back

Established in 1853 by the nation’s leading banks, The Clearing House originally functioned as the de facto central bank for banks in the United States long before the Federal Reserve was formed—facilitating exchanges, setting monetary policy, issuing a form of currency and even storing vaults of gold to back settlements.
Learn more about our history and contributions by viewing this 160th Anniversary video:


The Clearing House: At the Center of Banking for 160 Years


At important points in history, The Clearing House has provided a forum for banks to act together in dealing with crises: 

  • In 1907, the stock market and world markets crashed, spurred largely by huge insurance company loses after the San Francisco fire of 1906.  Led by J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, The Clearing House stepped in by lending money to banks, to the stock exchange and to the City of New York until the panic subsided.  Not long after this great panic, The Federal Reserve was formed and The Clearing House’s role evolved to become a proactive resource to promote common interests and help shape the U.S. banking industry.

  • When the outbreak of World War I paralyzed international exchange, The Clearing House banks took the lead to restore the nation’s foreign exchange position.

  • The Clearing House banks stood steadfast through the Great Depression.  From 1931-1934, when 8,000 U.S. banks failed, only one Clearing House bank was lost.

  • During World War II, The Clearing House banks promoted the sale of War Bonds.

  • As the Millennium approached, The Clearing House facilitated efforts to prepare the financial services industry for Y2K – in the U.S. and around the world.

  • On September 11th, and throughout the crisis, The Clearing House coordinated communication among banking leaders and kept electronic payments processing without interruption.

  • In response to the recent financial crisis, The Clearing House has served as a resource to regulators, Congressional leaders and academics as they look for new ways to make the system safer, prevent crises, and support economic growth.

During its history The Clearing House has helped the payments business evolve from exchanges of gold, to paper, to electronic clearing. It will continue to evolve as The Clearing House collaborates with banks to create capabilities for the new generation of payments, with the same safety and soundness principles that have always underpinned its core systems.