The second cooperative bank in Italy (the first one was the Banca Popolare di Lodi), it was founded in 1865 in Milan by Luigi Luzzatti, who later served as the nation's Prime Minister. Luzzatti drew his inspiration from the 'credit associations' developed by Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch in Germany a decade earlier.
BPM has grown considerably since the 1950s by buying interests in other banks such as Banca Popolare di Roma, la Banca Briantea, Banca Agricola Milanese, Banca Popolare Cooperativa Vogherese, Banca Popolare di Bologna e Ferrara, Banca Popolare di Apricena, Ina Banca, Cassa di Risparmio di Alessandria and Banca di Legnano.
BPM now employs about 9,000 people in 792 branches and it has about 1,4 million customers. The bank works basically in the northern and central regions of Italy, with a strong presence in Lombardy and Piedmont, but with branches also in Lazio and Apulia.
In 1999 Banca Popolare di Milano opened an online banking service called WeBank, and this became a separate bank in 2009.