The history of banks
Jul 6, 2021
Season 2 | Episode 3

The history of banks

Lending and saving and lollipops, oh my!

When banks first started thousands of years ago, they were known as places to borrow money, not keep your own money safe.

Through loans, banks provided funding to farmers or traders to help them with a project — like building a fence or traveling to another country. Borrowers would have to leave something valuable with the bank until they paid off the loan. To keep all that valuable stuff safe, banks became supersecure. That made them great places for everyday folks to deposit their own valuables and money.

This week, we’ll learn about the history of banks and how they work today and why they don’t work for all of us. And old friend from Season 1 helps us sort it all out, while Jed and Bridget see if they have what it takes to run their own bank.

Read the transcript here.

A four-panel comic depicting the history of banks: first as money lenders, then as a safe place to store valuables, now as a consumer money management tool. Who knows what the banks of tomorrow might look like?
Leigh Luna/Marketplace

And now … tips for grown-ups listening to “Million Bazillion” with kids

Money Talks

Take a minute to recap the episode and review the key points. Here are some questions to get the kids going:

  1. What’s the name of the video game Bridget plays with Jed?
  2. Where did some of the earliest known systems of banking start?
  3. What’s the word for the stuff borrowers give a bank to keep in case they can’t pay back a loan?
  4. How do banks make money?
  5. Why do some people not keep their money in banks?

(Scroll to the bottom or click here for the answers!)

Tip Jar

If the kids need a quick refresher on the history of banks and how they work, check out this page.
For a deeper dive, including lesson plans and other teaching resources:

Gimme 5

And now a question for your kids! We want to hear their most fun and creative answer to this question:

If you could design your own money, what would it look like?

Have the kids think it over, and send us a voice memo here

Money Talks answers

  1. Virtual Branch Manager 3
  2. Ancient Mesopotamia
  3. Collateral
  4. By charging interest on loans
  5. Answers will vary, but may include: high fees, lots of rules, unequal treatment, lack of trust

(Click here to scroll back up to the questions)

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The team

Jed Kim Host
Bridget Bodnar Senior Producer
Sanden Totten Editor
Erica Phillips Writer/Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sitara Nieves Executive Director of On-Demand
Chris Julin Sound designer

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