BRI is the oldest bank in Indonesia, tracing back since 1895. It is currently 53% government owned operating company (Persero) and has been government-owned for the entire period since the war of independence (1945 to 1949) to November 2003, when 30% of its shares were sold through an IPO.

BRI was founded in 1895, during the Dutch colonial period as De Poerwokertosche Hulp en Spaarbank der Inlandsche Hoofden (Help and Savings Bank for Purwokerto’s Aristocrats) by Raden Bei Aria Wirjaatmadja in Purwokerto, Central Java. It then underwent its first (of many) name changes to Hulp en Spaarbank der Inlandsche Bestuurs Ambtenaren (Help and Savings Bank for Local Civil Servants).

In 1946, after Indonesia gained independence, the bank became the first state owned bank in Indonesia and was renamed Bank Rakyat Indonesia Serikat.

In 1960, through the Government’s Regulation replacing Law No. 42 of 1960, this bank was merged into the Bank Koperasi, Tani dan Nelayan (BKTN). Then in 1965, BKTN was merged into Bank Indonesia and started business under the name “Bank of Cooperatives, Farmers and Fishermen of Indonesia”. Later, the government changed the name of Bank Indonesia to Bank Negara Indonesia and the name “Bank of Cooperatives, Farmers and Fishermen of Indonesia” was changed to “Bank Negara Indonesia Unit II”. In 1968, through Law No. 21 of 1968, the government separated Bank Negara Indonesia Unit II into a separate company with the name “PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia”.

In 2003, the Indonesian government decided to sell 30% of the bank’s shares, so that the bank officially became a public company with the name “PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk”.

In early 2019, the bank acquired a subsidiary of Bahana Artha Ventura, namely Sarana NTT Ventura, and renamed it BRI Ventures, as part of the bank’s plan to enter the venture capital business.

The bank sspecialises in small scale and microfinance style borrowing from and lending to its approximately 30 million retail clients through its over 8,600 branches, units and rural service posts. As of 2022, it is the second largest bank in Indonesia by assets.

According to Wikipedia