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Financial Institution Tellers, Clerks, and Related Workers

History

The profession of banking is nearly as old as civilization itself. Ancient records show that the Babylonians, for example, had a fairly complex system of lending, borrowing, and depositing money even before 2500 B.C. Other early literature makes reference to "money-lenders" and "money-changers" as ancient writers and travelers describe how they bought money in other countries by trading coins from their own homelands.

The term "bank" is derived from the Italian banco, meaning bench. Since the times of the Roman Empire, Italy has been an important trading and shipping nation. In medieval times, bankers set up benches on the streets and from these conducted their business of trading currencies and accepting precious metals and jewels for safekeeping. They also lent money at interest to finance the new ventures of shipping merchants and other businesses. Italian cities eventually established permanent banks, and this practice gradually spread throughout Europe. During the 17th century important banking developments took place in England, which by that time had become a major trading nation. In 1694, the Bank of England was founded in London.

In the newly founded United States, the Continental Congress chartered the Bank of North America on December 31, 1781 in Philadelphia. The first state bank was chartered in Boston in 1784 as the Bank of Massachusetts. Although the development of banking in the United States has experienced periods of slow growth, political controversies, and numerous failures throughout history, Congress and the federal government have done a great deal to make the nation's banking system safer and more effective.

Today, banking, like many other professions, has turned to the use of automation, mechanization, computers, telecommunications, and many modern methods of bookkeeping and record systems. Banks and savings institutions employ thousands of workers so that they can offer all the modern banking conveniences that Americans enjoy today.