The Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BCNI) was the first bank to sponsor the Tour de France. In the middle of the 1950s, a problem arose on the Tour: the Caravan arrives after the bank offices close and leaves before they open. To overcome this break in service, the BNCI embarked on the routes of the sporting event.
This photo was taken during the first Tour de France of the Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BNCI), in 1955. It shows the two mobile banking vans personalised with the bank’s logo, its name and the signature “The Tour Bank,” parked in front of the main BNCI branch in Monaco. The BNCI employees assigned to the race take advantage of the 9th stage of the Tour, from Briançon to Monaco, to stock up on funds at the local BNCI branch. Then they will set up a temporary bank counter from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
The BNCI in the service of the “followers” of the Tour de France
In order to simplify the daily routine of the Tour de France followers – officials, journalists, advertisers, technical directors and racers – the BNCI has established a mobile bank branch system that enables it to provide banking services in each stage town. The principle? Before each stage arrival, the bank employees collect funds from the local office of the BNCI and man their bank counter from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Cashing, payments, currency sales and foreign currency exchanges are some of the many operations they perform for the Tour de France village.
This innovative partnership was an opportunity for the BNCI to associate its image with that of a powerful social event and to make itself known with the general public. As such, from 1955 to 1967, the bank was involved with each edition of the Tour de France. And, after a 5 year hiatus, in 1973 the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) took its place again as the “Tour Bank.” If the BNP Paribas Group has been associated with Tennis since 1973, its past as a sports sponsor goes farther back.