How Medieval Italian Bankers Grew Rich Making Interest-Free Loans

How Medieval Italian Bankers Grew Rich Making Interest-Free Loans

  • Case
  • Teaching Notes
Abstract

In the 14th and 15th centuries, religion and law in Western Europe often prohibited the practice of usury—defined as the charging of any interest on loans. Many international bankers, who were predominantly Italian, made money by charging interest in circuitous ways. They also monetized the goodwill and leverage their ‘interest-free’ lending brought to them. This case study encourages readers to think about the multiple ways a business can make money from its product, and the implications such multiplicity has for business strategy and public policy.

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