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Rishengchang Exchange Shop

As the earliest draft bank in China, Rishengchang (means that the shop would be prosperous like the rising sun in Chinese) was established in 1823 during the early Qing Dynasty. No one could have foreseen the exchange shop boomed all the way through the turmoil-filled late period of Qing Dynasty (1840-1911).It was the cornerstone of modern Chinese banking. In particular it illustrates how the Shanxi Merchants made a vital contribution to the development of Chinese trade. Current Western management loves Rishengchang as the shop provides an incarnation of the prudent managing system of Shanxi Commercial Group.

 

Rishengchang Exchange Shop Rishengchang Exchange Shop
the gate of the historic Rishengchang the model showing the business scene of Rishengchang

It was the forerunner for organizing China's early finance system, handling remittance, money exchange, deposit, loan and other financial business. There were 35 branches throughout China. Its business covered Europe, America and Southeast Asia. The banking company had established a complete and strict management system, quite an accomplishment considering the condition of the country's communication and transportation at that time.

The Rishengchang Exchange Shop is in a large courtyard enclosed by high walls, and is comprised of accounting rooms, letter-writing rooms, the general manager's room, and the treasury. The rooms have been turned into a museum for visitors and the tools the bank originally used are all on display. In one corner of the courtyard, you may see an elderly man in his 80s, wearing a conventional 19th century robe and writing out Rishengchang bills of exchange as souvenirs for tourists. These bills bear the red Rishengchang stamp, making them valuable collectors' items. It is said that this old gentleman's ancestors worked at Rishengchang for six generations.

Note the tongue twister engraved on the wall near the counter. It includes the main contents of a draft, like the issue date and amount. Depending on the mysterious tongue twister, Rishengchang Exchange Shop never went wrong during decades.

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