Skip to Main Content

Home Explore Careers

Financial Institution Officers and Managers

History

The modern concept of bank notes, or currency, developed in the 17th century. Goldsmiths in London began to issue paper receipts for gold and other valuables that were deposited in their warehouses. The paper money we use today is a modern version of these 17th-century receipts. 

The first bank in the United States, Bank of North America, was chartered by the Continental Congress in 1781. By the early 1900s, banks had become so numerous that federal control of banks was needed. The Federal Deposit System, as we know it today, is the result of the efforts to coordinate the activities of the many banks throughout the nation. As banks grew in number and competed to attract new customers, financial professionals developed a variety of new services for banks to offer. Advancements in technology made many of these new services possible and, often, changed the way people thought about money. For example, banks introduced the first credit cards that were accepted by multiple vendors (cards that we know as Visa, MasterCard, etc.) in the late 1950s and 1960s. The introduction of these credit cards was made possible by bank computers that were able to track transactions and signal when spending limits were reached. Today, credit cards have become so commonplace they have replaced cash and checks for many types of transactions and are essential to online commerce.

The banking industry continues to use technology to expand its services. Today, most banks offer online banking with a range of services and many offer their customers a paperless option that allows them to receive their statements electronically. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of all American households bank online, and this number is expected to increase in the future.

As a result of the Great Recession of 2008 (which was called the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression) and other factors, the commercial banking industry is in a period of transition. The industry is consolidating and banks are increasingly competing with non-financial institutions to provide financial services to customers.