La Caixa, formally known as Caixa d'Estalvis i Pensions de Barcelona, is currently Europe’s leading savings bank and Spain's third largest financial institution, with a network of over 5,500 branches, more than 8,100 ATMs, a workforce in excess of 27,000 and more than 10.7 million customers. The Caixa has one of the best online banking facilities available in Spain and non-Spanish speakers have a special interface so that they can perform bank operations from home, in Spain or abroad, in their own language. More about the online banking feature called Línea Abierta, in English here. The online banking facility is also available in French, German, Italian and Portuguese which gives users an indication of the specialised service la Caixa offers to its foreign customers. La Caixa works closely with immigrant groups in Spain and finance social integration projects in Spain to improve the quality of life of these groups. Since 1997 the bank has donated 7.2 million euros to development projects in Latin America and Africa. The Caixa also offers a special card enabling Latinamerican and North African immigrants to transfer money to their native country directly from a cashpoint.
La Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Cataluña y las Islas Baleares "la Caixa", was founded on April 5, 1904 by the Catalan lawyer Francesc Moragas Barret with the support of various institutions of Catalan civil society. It was created with the aim of encouraging savings and retirement planning, objectives which today might appear to be merely financial but were, in that historical context, clearly intended to help the working poor to achieve a measure of financial independence and security. Francesc Moragas (1868-1935), founder and first managing director of "la Caixa". On April 16, 1904, King Alfonso XIII officially inaugurated the Caja de Pensiones para la Vejez at the Beaux Arts Palace in Barcelona, the stage for many of the city’s most solemn events. At the inauguration, the monarch was named Honorary President and protector of the new entity. Moragas, the first managing director of "la Caixa", had an idea: to create a private institution which, in those socially turbulent times, could offer workers and business leaders an instrument to provide retirement and disability insurance. At about the same time Moragas and his associates included savings instruments as well. Thus, was born "la Caixa" -- an entity with a new economic and social concept of savings and the first to provide social insurance. Francesc Moragas promoted an ambitious, professional concept of management which was very different from the predominant model in other savings banks at the time. He offered diversified savings products and created branches in Catalonia’s main towns and cities, introducing modern financial management. The territorial expansion of "la Caixa" continued apace in Catalonia and the Balearic islands with the aim of spreading the advantages of modern finance. In this sense, it should be noted that "la Caixa" was a Spanish pioneer in social assistance, one of the basic pillars of the current social security system. At the end of the 70s "la Caixa" decided to create an original new corporate identity to set it apart from other Spanish financial institutions. The idea was to endow "la Caixa" with a unique personality, both easily identifiable and easy to identify with. The company Landor Associates was hired to tackle the task. Of all the proposals on the table, the most appropriate and innovative was selected: to commission the most universal Catalan artist, Joan Miró, to create a tapestry from which an emblem could be taken. Thus, in 1980 the star and its colors - so Mediterranean and typical of Miró's work - became the institution's symbol. Since that time, the symbol of "la Caixa" has created a style in the area of corporate image in the Spanish financial sector. Its widespread presence both in the streets and in the media has made the "la Caixa" star familiar throughout the country.