The banking industry in Nebraska began shortly after the area was designated a territory in 1854. Banking was perhaps more closely related to the practice of issuing securities, as there was no government sanctioned legal tender at that time. Instead, a bank would print its own banknotes to issue as money. These notes were backed only by that particular bank. In 1855, the first territorial legislature convened and discussed many banking bills, which would have required incorporation of Nebraska territory banks. These measures failed. Any business conducting bank activity or banks were allowed to exist through special charters.
Special charters allowing banking activity continued even after the territory became The State of Nebraska in 1867. The first banking act wasn't approved until 1877, ten years after statehood. This first act merely required banks within the state to report to the Auditor of Public Accounts in December of every year. In 1889, the first three sections of this act were repealed and amendments were added that required banks to report to the State Treasurer and Attorney General in addition to the Auditor of Public Accounts.
In 1895, the State Banking Board was established with the State Auditor, Treasurer and Attorney General as the members. Heading the board was the newly established Secretary of the Board. In 1909, the State Treasurer was dropped from the board and the Governor added. The Governor also was given the ability to appoint the Banking Secretary.
In 1913, the Nebraska Legislature passed an act to "...regulate and supervise associations, companies, corporations and persons selling or negotiating for the sale within the State of Nebraska stocks, bonds or securities and prescribed penalties for the violation thereof." The administration of this law was placed under the jurisdiction of the State Railway Commission.
The Department of Trade and Commerce was formed in 1919. Its Bureau of Banking succeeded the State Banking Board. Jurisdiction over Blue Sky Laws (securities laws) was granted to the Department of Trade and Commerce in 1921, relieving this duty from the State Railway Commission.
Banking and securities were once again separated in 1933 when the newly formed Department of Banking took over the Banking Bureau formed under the Trade and Commerce Department and the new Department of Insurance was placed in charge of Blue Sky Law.
In 1939, regulation of banks and securities once again merged when the Nebraska Legislature placed the Bureau of Securities under the Department of Banking. In 1941, the title Superintendent of Banking was changed to Director of Banking. In 1965 the Nebraska Securities Act replaced the Blue Sky Laws. And, in 1976 the name was changed to the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance.