Henri Germain was born on February 19, 1824 in Lyon. His father, Henri Germain, was a silk businessman, and his mother was Claudine Lupin. He received a law degree. He was a follower of Saint-Simonianism, and François Barthélemy Arlès-Dufour (1797-1872) became his mentor.
In 1863, he founded Crédit Lyonnais. They became the first bank in France to offer savings accounts with interest. The first shareholders were Saint-Simon followers like Paulin Talabot (1799–1885), Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin (1796–1864), Arlès-Dufour and Michel Chevalier (1806-1879). Two years later, in 1865, he founded the Société Foncière Lyonnaise, a real estate company. In 1892, he spearheaded the construction of the Boulevard Carnot, then known as the Boulevard de la Foncière-Lyonnaise.
He died on February 2, 1905.
- La Situation financière de la France en 1886
- L’État politique de la France en 1886
- Jacques-Marie Vaslin, Henri Germain, prudent banquier du Crédit lyonnais, Le Monde, August 15, 2013
- Christian Byk, 'Regard sur les villas niçoises', p. 91-101, Nice-Historique, année 1989, no 40