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    The Rishengchang Exchange Shop, one of the earliest exchange shops in China, is located on West Street in Ping Yao City, Shanxi Province. The rectangular compound faces north and is 65 meters (71 yards) long and 20 meters (22 yards) wide. In total it occupies over 1,300 square meters (approximately a third of an acre). It was established in 1823 during the Qing Dynasty (1644--1911). At that time it had over 35 branches in China's major cities. In December 1995, Shanxi Provincial Government listed it as a Provincial Key Cultural Relic under the Reservation and it is now the Chinese Exchange Shop Museum.

    During the Qing Dynasty China's currency was silver coin and there were obvious problems relating to security and convenience if traders had to carry large sums of money in coin form. The exchange shops offered a convenient alternative and thus bills of exchange came into use and an early form of banking created. Cash deposited at one branch could become payable by means of a bill at another as a secure method of transferring funds from one businessman to another regardless of time and distance. The Rishengchang Exchange Shop acquired the reputation of Huitong Tianxia, which means the silver coin and the bills of the exchange could reach every part of the country. Before the establishment of the modern banking system the Rishengchang Exchange Shop had a great influence on the Chinese economy during the 108 years between its opening and ultimate demise in bankruptcy. Due to its enormous influence upon the development of banking in China, the Rishengchang Exchange Shop has become a place of considerable interest to visitors in recent years.