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Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank

Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank

Exchange bank is a type of private-owned financial institution offering business services such as remittance, deposit and loans. Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank, China’s first exchange bank, is the first private bank in China and modeled as a modern bank. Located in “the first financial street of the Qing Dynasty” and the busy Western Street of the ancient town. it was originally cofounded by Li Daquan (from Xidapu village) who invested 300,000 silvers and shopkeeper Lei Lvtai (from Xiyao village) in 1823 of the Qing Dynasty.

The founding of Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank ended the backwardness of escorting cash over a long distance. Over a long period, Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank has developed into a mature institute that could annually earn as much as 38,000,000 silvers in its prime time. The saying, “earning thousands of gold per day” can best describe its booming business. Its branches later could be found throughout the country. What amazes tourists is that the Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank has moved steadily regardless of incessant troubles at home and aggressions from abroad, forming its own managerial system  that is often admired by western managerialists.

Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank upheld the value of honesty in doing business. The following story can best demonstrate its core value. In the late Qing Dynasty, there was an old widow making a living by begging on the street in Pingyao ancient town. One day, she came to Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank with a 12000-silver check that was written in Zhang Jiakou Branch to exchange cash. After careful examination, the cashier found that the check was written in the seventh year during the reign of Emperor Tongzhi, which was 30 years from the time the old widow asked to exchange. Given this, the cashier rushed into the parquet circle and asked the shopkeeper for confirmation. After finding the source of the check and carefully auditing the accounts of dozens of years, they exchanged cash for the old widow.

Indeed, the spouse of the old widow once went to do feather business in Zhang Jiakou. In the seventh year during the reign of Emperor Tongzhi, he cast his accounts and intended to go home. So he remitted 12,000 silvers cash in the branch of Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank and started his journey. Unexpectedly, he died of a disease on his way home. When his body was transported back home, his wife, the widow, became insane after her husband’s death. Since then, this happy family declined in wealth and position. The poor widow had to beg on street to make a living. One day, when she took out the only jacket that her husband left for her, she accidentally found a check of Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank in the pocket of the jacket. In the hope of giving it a shot, she came to Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank to exchange cash.

After this incident, Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank had a greater reputation and its remittance and loaning services flourish day by day.

Guidelines for traveling: Ri Shengchang Exchange Bank is open to the public as Exchange Bank Museum of China with over 20 exhibition halls. Its two main exhibitions, namely presentation of its history and presentation of its original look, throw some insight on the development of China’s national bank industry. Three parts constitute the museum:

  • (1) the forecourt is the business hall;
  • (2) the middle-court is the office; and
  • (3) the backyard is the residential area.