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Penelope Hawkins

The evolutionary theory of banking (or ‘stages of banking’) developed by Chick has considerable appeal, providing a theoretical basis with which to understand the development of the banking system.1 It relates to the exceptional status of banks to create money and their pivotal role in the economy, and links the evolution of banking to monetary policy. In much of the discourse the evolutionary theory of banking relates to the monetary policy function of central banks.2 Central banks are responsible for both monetary policy and bank regulation. The evolution of banking is clearly also a relational story of the banks and the regulatory function of central banks. The chapter attempts to extend the relational story to the non-bank public. The public rely on the convention of confidence in bank money which is intrinsic to the regulation of banks, but of course they are also the users of banking services. The evolutionary approach of banking is a useful point of entry to understand the rise in financial inclusion of previously excluded households, and provides insight into how over-indebtedness can be a consequence of the competitive pressures of banks that are driven to originate loans at all costs. The evolutionary approach also provides insight as to why African Bank, a South African micro-lending bank, failed.

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Penelope Hawkins