The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) joined the field of multilateral development banks (MDBs) in 2016 as a US$100 billion international financial institution, providing finance for public and private infrastructure projects in Asia. AIIB has been created with the experience of existing MDBs with an aim of innovating for the future. AIIB's establishment is compared here with the origin stories of major MDBs—all born in a mix of geopolitics and development needs. AIIB's policy and strategy framework has continued to be filled out in its first three years, supporting its approved portfolio of over US$8 billion in 45 investment operations. Innovative features in its otherwise classic MDB governance structure are also in operation, such as AIIB's non‐resident board, streamlined decision‐making and uniquely detailed oversight arrangements. For the future, factors that have affected other MDBs may also affect AIIB. Cycles in the global economic and financial environment and shifts in international relations and geopolitics will have an impact on AIIB's members. Institutional governance and leadership have been another source of uncertainty for some others. Time will tell how well AIIB's unique blend of old and new will enable it to serve its mandate and its clients around the world.
Image credit: 颜邯 (CC BY-SA 4.0)