The history of interbank settlement arrangements: exploring central banks' role

Working papers set out research in progress by our staff, with the aim of encouraging comments and debate.
Published on 09 June 2011

Working Paper No. 412
By Ben Norman, Rachel Shaw and George Speight

Modern central banks have come to view payment systems as a key area of strategic interest, both as part of their responsibilities for financial stability and for the implementation of monetary policy. By considering the evolution of interbank settlement arrangements and central banking functions in the context of a number of diverse historical country case studies, this paper seeks to improve understanding of the development of, and reasons for, central banks’ current roles. Starting from a situation where the earliest banks gradually began to accept claims on each other, banks introduced a variety of innovations to clear and settle between themselves more efficiently. Focusing particularly on the lender of last resort function - a key characteristic of a central bank - this paper explores whether institutions at the centre of clearing and settlement arrangements developed central bank-like characteristics.

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