establishments that changed coins and traded in money; in particular they exchanged local money for foreign currency and vice versa.
Money-changing offices were common in ancient Greece and Rome and elsewhere. During the Middle Ages they existed in many cities of Europe. The lack of any central agency for money matters, the minting of personal coins by feudal lords, and the damaging of coins all made necessary the continual exchange of coins, especially for merchants traveling to foreign markets. The exchange of coins was a point of departure for the development of usury. Many money changers scraped together considerable capital, became bankers, and supplied credit to feudal lords, craftsmen, and merchants. During the period of the primitive accumulation of capital the development of money changing and usury hastened the formation of capitalist relations. With the transition from feudalism to capitalism, banks replaced money-changing offices.