Before the August Revolution in 1945, Vietnam was a feudal-colonial country under the French colonialists’ rule. The banking and credit system was founded and protected by the French colonialists through the Indo China bank. It functioned as both the central bank of the whole Indochinese region (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) and a commercial bank with commercial banking operations and investment.
After the August Revolution, one of the key tasks of the August Revolution then, was to build an independent and autonomous monetary and banking system to serve for the national cause of revolution and construction. The task was fulfilled by 1950, when the anti-French resistance war grew stronger, obtaining many triumphs in the battled field, and expanding the liberalized region. In this context, the development required economic and financial activities to be improved and promoted to meet new demands. On the basis of the new economic and financial policy set out in the 2nd Congress of the Vietnam Workers’ Party (February,1951), President Ho Chi Minh signed Decision 15/SL on the establishment of the Vietnam National Bank – Bank of the first people’s democratic state in Southeast Asia in order to carry out five urgent missions: issuing banknotes, managing treasury, carrying out credit policy in order to facilitate production and coordinating with the trade authorities for monetary management and struggling against the enemy. The foundation of the Vietnam National Bank was the result of the struggle process to develop an independent, and autonomous monetary and credit system, marking a new development step, i.e, changing the quality of the national monetary and credit sector.
During anti – American resistance war ( 1955 – 1975), the performance of the Vietnam National Bank focused on currency management and circulation under the socialist economic management principles; formulated and promoted bank credit scheme for state - owned and collective rnterprises; improved non-cash payment, established payment centers as commercial banks; expanded international credit and payment relationship; implemented the state exclusive scheme for foreign exchange management.
The Vietnam National Bank was renamed as the State Bank of Vietnam on October 26, 1961.
From 1975 to 1985 - the ten-year postwar economic recovery period: The banking sector had quickly taken over banking system of the old regime in the South, revoked the old banknotes in both the South and the North and issued new kinds of banknotes of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. In this period, basically, the state banking system did not implement the market – oriented monetary, but still served as a budget tool.
On March, 1988, the Council of Government issued Decree No. 53/HDBT laying the foundation to "transform the banking system to commercial operations”. In May 1990, the Ordinance on the State Bank of Vietnam and ordinance on banking, credit co-operatives and finance companies, were enacted, thereby officially changing the operation mechanism of the banking system of Vietnam from one-tier to two – tier system, in which the SBV implements the state management of currency trading and banking, and implements the task of a central bank; The tier of commercial banks and credit institutions conduct currency trading, credit, payment, foreign exchange and banking services in line with law.
From 1990 up to now, the functions, roles and responsibilities and structure of the SBV continue to be supplemented and completed in line with the Law on the State Bank of Vietnam and the Law on Credit institutions dated 2/12/1997 and their revision in 2003; the the Law on the State Bank of Vietnam 2010, the Law on Credit institutions 2010 and Degree No.88/1998/NĐ-CP dated November 2, 1988 and Degree No.52/2003/NĐ-CP dated May 19,2003, Degree No.96/2008/NĐ-CP dated August 26, 2008 and Degree No.156/2013/NĐ-CP dated November 11, 2013.