Origins of ordinary things: Banking

People take their money to the bank to keep it safe from theft, to save it for future use or to avoid overspending.

The word ‘bank’ has a Latin origin. According to The Guardian, a media source, it is in reference to a bench where money lenders in ancient Rome would sit and the public would come to them and give them their money, believing in their ability to pick good credit risks which would bring in interest. Those who picked bad credit  risks would have their benches broken.

In ancient Assyria and Sumeria around 2000 BC, banking started with lending and borrowing. According to Wikipedia, an encyclopedia, during that time merchants used to give grain loans to the farmers and traders who sold goods from one city to another.

During the Roman Empire, those who dealt in lending or borrowing money started doing it in the temple, which was a designated place of worship. According to Investopedia, a financial education platform, this was because when the need for a currency to buy foreign goods and services arose and coins were made, the temple seemed like the safest place to keep the coins. In time, people started to carry out transactions in temples.

The biggest angry outburst recorded in the Bible about Jesus Christ-the most important figure in the Christian faith, is when Jesus drove merchants out of a temple. According to the Bible, some of them were money lenders.

Eventually, the Romans stopped taking money to temples and started taking it to designated buildings. According to Investopedia, during this time Roman Emperor Julius Ceasar gave a decree allowing banks to confiscate land if someone failed to pay back a loan. Previously, debt could just be passed on from one generation to another.

Banks disappeared after the collapse of the Roman Empire and only reappeared in the 12th and 13th centuries. This is according to Local Histories, a knowledge dissemination platform. The banks whose operation is similar to the current ones started during the Renaissance in Italy. Bardi and Peruzzi who were both prominent families opened bank branches in Italian cities of Florence, Venice and Genoa.

In the 15th and 16th century, banking spread out from Italy to Northern Europe. This is according to Wikipedia. After that, it spread out to the rest of the continents. When telecommunications and computing began improving in the 20th century, banks began to tailor their operations to the needs of a modern world.

Now, people can carry out transations without even physically going to the bank. They can make payments, withdraw money, check their balance in the comfort of their homes using nothing more than a mobile phone.

 

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