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Two hundred years of savings banks: The wheel turns full circle

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The last 10 years have seen a strong revival of interest in expanding the provision of savings services for the poor. In the 19th century, savings banks were a vital component in the extension of financial services to poor women and men in Western Europe and elsewhere. This paper explores some features of the 19th-century development of savings banks in the United Kingdom, France and Germany that throw interesting light on current preoccupations in this area, including: how institutions learn from and adapt the mechanisms developed by poor people themselves; the implications of the range of motivations that characterize the promoters of savings institutions; the use of technology to reach the poor; and the role of the state and its regulations.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-06-01

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