banks that carried out clearing operations between their clients.
Giro banks came into existence in the 16th and 17th centuries. Best known were the Rialto in Venice (1587), the Exchange Bank in Amsterdam (1609), and the Exchange Bank in Hamburg (1619). These and other giro banks in the cities of Italy, Germany, Holland, and France and in other countries of Western Europe opened accounts for their clients in standard accounting units (bank coins) with a set content of silver or gold (the Amsterdam Giro Bank set its unit in bank florins equal by weight to 211.91 asses of pure silver; the Hamburg Giro Bank, in bank marks, 27 3/4 of which were equal to 1 silver mark by weight). The banks also accepted deposits and executed orders from the owners of the accounts (giro orders) to carry out transfer operations from one account to another. The account in the giro bank was opened with a deposit of money of full value or of ingots of precious metal, or with an entry of the proceeds from the sale of merchandise or the amounts of bills of exchange as expressed in a full-value bank monetary unit. Through their giro accounts the banks accumulated large amounts of money, which they used to give loans to the state, municipalities, or merchants. However, the main activity of giro banks was clearing operations. With the development of the banks of issue and commercial banks in the 18th and 19th centuries, giro banks declined or became important loan institutions with wide credit and clearing functions.
M. G. POLIAKOV