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