Summer Talk before Formal Hall

Lilia Costabile

From metallic money to paper money: the financial innovations of the public banks of Naples

In the last decades of the sixteenth century, the public banks of Naples introduced the first example of a paper circulation in the Western world. Their financial innovations included the fede di credito (a highly liquid deposit certificate that circulated as money);  accomodi, or cash credits, to be used “whenever the need may arise”, an early version of modern overdraft facilities; and a sophisticated inter-bank clearing system. There is a connection between these innovations and the system of trust originating in the philanthropic activities of the charities (luoghi pii) that were the public banks’ shareholders.