Slip of Paper that Changed the World


In a few handwritten lines, this is the financial instrument that revolutionized banking. A merchant in Bruges owing money in Barcelona pays into a local bank which sends this bill to its contact bank in Barcelona which pays out the money, in local currency, to the merchant’s creditor. As many as four copies were made and sent
separately to make sure of safe arrival. The only problem now was balancing the accounts between the two banks.

Poche righe scritte a mano: ecco lo strumento finanziario che rivoluzionò l’attività bancaria. Un mercante di Bruges, dovendo dei soldi a Barcellona, li versa in una banca del posto; questa spedisce la lettera a una banca di appoggio a Barcellona che corrisponde la somma al creditore del mercante, in valuta locale. Se ne stilavano quattro copie, inviate separatamente per garantirne l’arrivo. Ora il solo problema era pareggiare i conti tra le due banche.

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