Inspired by progressive rock acts from England, in particular Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, keyboardists Vittorio Nocenzi and his brother Gianni founded Banco del Mutuo Soccorso in Rome, Italy. They later recorded their eponymous debutin 1972, soon to be followed by Darwin!, and in 1973 Io sono nato libero. Right from the start the most striking features of their sound was the complex texture provided by the piano, Hammond organ and synthesizers played by the Nocenzi brothers, plus the original vocals delivered by Francesco Di Giacomo. A careful balance of electronic and acoustic instruments, plus the use of reeds (played by some of the members of the band, in addition to their usual instrument), made the sound of Banco increasingly original and innovative, with a blend of rock, jazz and classical music which did not however forsake the Italian melodic tradition.
Proving popular in Italy and becoming known abroad, the band signed with Manticore Records together with the Premiata Forneria Marconi. In 1975 Banco was released, a collection of translated songs together with new material, targeting the international market. Come in un'ultima cena was also translated as As in a Last Supper.
The late 1970s saw Banco del Mutuo Soccorso going in new directions, with a film soundtrack in 1976's Garofano rosso and recordings with an orchestra in 1978's ...di terra. They changed their name to the simplified Banco.
The 1980s saw Banco's musical direction change towards lighter pop and shorter songs, producing some hits. This is due to the limited success they had abroad with their albums with English lyrics (also due to the shutdown of Manticore in 1977), which led to the decision to exploit Di Giacomo's remarkable vocal gifts with more marketable songs. Gianni Nocenzi left the band for a solo career. Other members came and went.
In the 1990s and now back to using the longer name, they started playing their 1970s material again. They performed unpluggedversions of their songs live and re-recorded their first albums. New material was also produced.
Today, the band continues to play live, although no new material has been recorded since 1997.
On 21 February 2014, Francesco di Giacomo died in a car accident, in Zagarolo, at the age of 67.
In September 2016 some Italian newspapers claimed that the band has taken on Tony D'Alessio, best known from the Italian edition of X-Factor, as the new lead singer