Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Basel Accords: Purpose, Pillars, History, and Member Countries


The Basel Accords refer to a set of internationally agreed-upon banking regulations designed to enhance financial stability and mitigate banking risks. Established by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the accords consist of three pillars: minimum capital requirements, supervisory review of capital adequacy, and market discipline through disclosure. The committee’s continuous revisions over the years have resulted in three separate accords (Basel I, II, and III), with member countries including G-10 countries along with other major financial jurisdictions.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword is:Basel Accords: /ˈbɑːzəl əˈkɔrdz/Purpose: /ˈpɜrpəs/Pillars: /ˈpɪlərz/History: /ˈhɪstəri/and: /ænd/Member: /ˈmɛmbər/Countries: /ˈkʌntriz/

Key Takeaways

  1. Purpose: The Basel Accords are international banking regulations developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) to promote global financial stability, standardize bank regulation, improve the resilience of banks, and protect financial markets from systemic risk. It does this by enhancing the practices for banks’ capital requirements, risk management, and information transparency.
  2. Pillars: The Basel Accords consist of three pillars:
    • Pillar 1 – Minimum Capital Requirements: This pillar establishes the minimum levels of capital that banks must maintain to cover their credit, market, and operational risks.
    • Pillar 2 – Supervisory Review Process: This pillar encourages banks to use internal systems to assess their capital adequacy and address potential risks, while allowing regulators to review banks’ risk management processes and capital levels.
    • Pillar 3 – Market Discipline: This pillar promotes transparency and disclosure by banks to facilitate market participants’ understanding of a bank’s financial and risk profiles, resulting in greater market discipline and mitigating systemic risk.
  3. History and Member Countries: The Basel Accords have evolved in three stages: Basel I (1988), Basel II (2004), and Basel III (2010). These have addressed different aspects of bank regulation and requirements over time. The BCBS comprises central banks and banking supervisors from 27 countries, including Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. While these countries serve as the primary implementers, many non-member countries also adopt the guidelines set forth by the Basel Accords.


The Basel Accords, established by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), are significant as they provide an international regulatory framework aimed at ensuring the stability and integrity of the global banking system. The framework includes three pillars: minimum capital requirements, supervisory review process, and market discipline, which together promote transparency, risk management, and prudent behavior in the banking industry. The history of the Basel Accords demonstrates a proactive approach to enhancing banking regulations in response to ongoing financial crises and failures. As a result, the regulations have become increasingly risk-sensitive and comprehensive over time. There are currently 45 member countries, and their adoption of the Basel Accords guidelines fosters cross-border banking supervision and creates a level playing field, reducing the risk of regulatory arbitrage. Thus, the Basel Accords play a crucial role in enhancing financial stability and promoting banking sector’s sustained growth worldwide.


The Basel Accords were established with the primary purpose of creating an international standard that banking regulators could use to monitor and ensure that financial institutions maintain enough capital reserves to offset the risks associated with their operations. Developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), these Accords served as a measure to prevent the occurrence of potential financial crises in the global economy, such as the 2008 crisis. They aimed to bolster the stability of financial systems by stipulating banking laws and regulations that address the risk and exposure banks undertake, making banking operations safer and more transparent globally.

Three key pillars provide the foundation for these Accords. The first pillar mandates that banks maintain an adequate capital ratio to absorb unexpected losses. The second pillar provides a framework for the supervisory review process, empowering supervisors to review banks’ risk management systems and capital adequacy. The third pillar stresses the importance of market discipline through disclosure requirements that allow market participants to gauge the capital adequacy of an institution. The history of the Basel Accords can be traced back to 1988 with the release of Basel I. Subsequent updates in 2004 and 2010 led to the creation of Basel II and Basel III respectively. As of today, all member countries of the Bank for International Settlements, numbering over 100, adopt the Basel Accords in some form, shaping the financial landscape on a global scale.


Example 1: Bank of America and Basel AccordsThe Basel Accords consist of three set of banking regulations (Basel I, II, and III) created by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS). For instance, Bank of America, a multinational investment bank, adheres to these regulations. The purpose of these accords is to ensure that financial institutions have enough capital to meet their obligations, reduce the risk of financial crises, and promote financial stability.

In compliance with the Basel Accords, the Bank of America maintains a certain level of capital adequacy, keeping a reserve of capital to protect against potential losses. To meet Basel III requirements, the bank had to adjust its capital structure which included increasing its high-quality liquid assets (cash or assets that can be easily converted into cash). This ensured that the bank is well-buffered against periods of financial stress or economic downturns.

Example 2: UBS Switzerland and Basel AccordsUBS Switzerland, another global bank, also provides a clear example of application of Basel Accords. These regulations outline risk and capital management requirements to protect banks, their customers, and the economy as a whole. UBS utilizes the Basel framework to manage its credit, market, and operational risks. Additionally, the Basel Accords require banks to hold a certain amount of capital as a safety net. In recent years, UBS has worked to exceed these minimum capital requirements as part of its risk management strategy, promoting overall stability.

Example 3: Banque Centrale du Luxembourg and Basel AccordsThe enforcement of the Basel Accords is not limited to banks alone, but also extends to national banking regulators. For example, the Banque Centrale du Luxembourg (BCL) ensures that banks operating within Luxembourg – such as ING Luxembourg and Deutsche Bank Luxembourg – meet Basel requirements. BCL does this in its capacity as a member of the BCBS and a supervisory entity of banking. This includes conducting stress tests as per Basel III norms and requiring banks to maintain transparency regarding their balance sheets and risk profiles. Also, the central bank pushes local financial institutions to straighten their risk management capabilities, instilling confidence among depositors and investors about the stability of the financial system.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the purpose of the Basel Accords?

The Basel Accords aim to standardize banking regulations across the globe, focusing primarily on risk management. They were established to ensure that international banks have sufficient capital on account to meet all obligations and absorb unexpected losses.

What are the key pillars of the Basel Accords?

The Basel Accords are structured on three main pillars: Pillar 1 – Minimum Capital Standards; Pillar 2 – Supervisory Review Process, and; Pillar 3 – Market Discipline. The aim is to improve the banking sector’s ability to deal with financial stress, improve risk management, and strengthen banks’ transparency practices.

Can you provide a brief history of the Basel Accords?

Basel I was first established by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) in 1988. It primarily focused on credit risk. In 2004, Basel II was introduced, which added operational risk and market risk to the framework and more complex calculations for risks. Basel III followed as a response to the financial crisis of 2008. It aimed to reinforce the banking sector with a more stringent set of regulations, including stricter capital requirements and leverage ratios.

Can you describe the member countries of the Basel Accords?

There are 27 member countries of the Basel Accords including: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries represent the key global economies.

Is the Basel Accords legally binding?

No, the Basel Accords themselves are not legally binding. Still, member countries are expected to implement the guidelines in their domestic policies, making them binding at a national level.

Can you explain more about the three pillars of Basel III?

Certainly. Pillar 1 sets new and stricter requirements on minimum capital ratios and introduces a new global liquidity framework. Pillar 2 mandates banks to have a process for assessing the overall capital adequacy according to their risk profile and a strategy for maintaining capital levels. Pillar 3 aims at improving transparency and requires banks to connect and disclose information that reveals their risk profiles, risk assessment techniques, and capital adequacy.

What is the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS)?

The BCBS is a committee of banking supervisory authorities established by the central bank governors of the G10 countries in 1974. It provides a forum for regular cooperation on banking supervisory matters and develops international standards for banking regulation, particularly the Basel Accords.

Related Finance Terms

  • Purpose: The Basel Accords refer to a set of recommendations on banking regulations in regards to capital risk, market risk, and operational risk. The objective is to ensure financial institutions have enough capital on account to meet obligations and absorb unexpected losses.
  • Pillars: The Basel Accords are based on three main pillars – Pillar 1: Minimum Capital Standards, Pillar 2: Supervisory Review Process, and Pillar 3: Market Discipline.
  • History: Introduced by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), the Basel Accords comprise three series: Basel I (issued in 1988), Basel II (issued in 2004), and Basel III (issued between 2010 and 2011).
  • Member Countries: The Basel Accords are adhered to by banking institutions in many countries worldwide, primarily in BCBS member nations such as the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain.
  • Impact: The Basel Accords significantly impact how banks operate, influencing elements like the amount of capital they need to hold and how they manage risk, leading to greater stability in the banking system.

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More