The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is the central bank of Switzerland. It is responsible for Swiss monetary policy and for issuing Swiss franc banknotes.
The names of the institution in the four official languages of the country are: German: Schweizerische Nationalbank; French: Banque Nationale Suisse; Italian: Banca Nazionale Svizzera; Romansh: Banca Naziunala Svizra.
The SNB is an aktiengesellschaft under special regulations. About 55% of its shares are owned by public institutions like cantons and cantonal banks. The remaining shares are traded on the stock market. They are mostly owned by private individuals. The Swiss National Bank has two head offices, one is in Bern and the other one in Zurich.
- Monetary policy. The Swiss National Bank conducts the country’s monetary policy as an independent central bank. It is obliged by Constitution and statute to act in accordance with the interests of the country as a whole. Its primary goal is to ensure price stability, while taking due account of economic developments. In so doing, it creates an appropriate environment for economic growth.
- Cash supply and distribution. The National Bank is entrusted with the note-issuing privilege. It supplies the economy with banknotes that meet high standards with respect to quality and security. It is also charged by the Confederation with the task of coin distribution.
- Cashless payment transactions. In the field of cashless payment transactions, the National Bank provides services for payments between banks. These are settled in the Swiss Interbank Clearing (SIC) system via sight deposit accounts held with the National Bank.
- Investment of currency reserves. The National Bank manages currency reserves. These engender confidence in the Swiss franc, help to prevent and overcome crises and may be utilized for interventions in the foreign exchange market.
- Financial system stability. The National Bank contributes to the stability of the financial system. Within the context of this task, it analyses sources of risk to the financial system, oversees systemically important payment and securities settlement systems and helps to promote an operational environment for the financial sector.
- International monetary cooperation. Together with the federal authorities, the National Bank participates in international monetary cooperation and provides technical assistance.
- Banker to the Confederation. The National Bank acts as banker to the Swiss Confederation. It processes payments on behalf of the Confederation, issues money market debt register claims and bonds, handles the safekeeping of securities and carries out money market and foreign exchange transactions.
- Statistics. The National Bank compiles statistical data on banks and financial markets, the balance of payments, the international investment position and the Swiss financial accounts.