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The history of banking began with the first prototype banks which were the merchants of the world, who gave grain loans to farmers and traders who carried goods between cities. This was around 2000 BC in Assyria, India and Sumeria.

Later, in ancient Greece and during the Roman Empire, lenders based in temples gave loans, while accepting deposits and performing the change of money.

Archaeology from this period in ancient China and India also shows evidence of money lending.

Many histories position the crucial historical development of a banking system to medieval and Renaissance Italy and particularly the affluent cities of Florence, Venice and Genoa. The Bardi and Peruzzi Families dominated banking in 14th century Florence, establishing branches in many other parts of Europe. The most famous Italian bank was the Medici bank, established by Giovanni Medici in 1397. The oldest bank still in existence is Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, headquartered in Siena, Italy, which has been operating continuously since 1472.

Development of banking spread from northern Italy throughout the Holy Roman Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries to northern Europe.  [Editor's note: The Holy Roman Empire excluded Rome ...it was composed of the German war lords conducting an Inquisition.]

This was followed by a number of important innovations that took place in Amsterdam during the Dutch Republic in the 17th century, and in London since the 18th century.