I was on Wikipedia on Friday and I cant remember how I got to this page but there was a Jewish American banker from Pren, Lithuania, born in 1869, died in 1939 in New York, whose last name began with an "S" who introduced the concept of a bank account that gave the owner interest. My history and cookies delete are set to delete every session.

Who is this man?

  • You appear to be asking two different questions; "When did banks start giving interest to depositors?" and "Who introduced the concept of a bank account that gave the owner interest?" Do you want the answer to both or just the latter? Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 11:01
  • Either will do. Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 13:03
  • 1
    See update-individual was Simon Swig.
    – justCal
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 2:34

2 Answers 2


I can' speak to the individual (see update at bottom of answer) you are referring to, but the practice of banks paying interest on deposits predates his birth date of 1869. An example illustrating this from a publication by the state of Indiana in 1836:

Many banking institutions in other states, where such restrictions do not exist, allow a small interest on deposits on which business transactions are based. Such a course would call in large sums now inactive and induce many to save and deposit a portion of their earnings. For our canal fund deposited in New York a bank of that city is now paying four percent, but while this unusual prohibition in our charter exists our own banks cannot do for us that which foreign banks are doing.

So you can see, though the practice is far from universal, it was available from banks in New York city by 1836.

There is mention of interest on deposits in some entries on Roman banking practices, but I haven't found any sources there:

The Roman empire at some time formalized the administrative aspect of banking and instituted greater regulation of financial institutions and financial practices. Charging interest on loans and paying interest on deposits became more highly developed and competitive.

(emphasis mine)


The individual you were looking for is Simon Swig

Simon Swig (1862 in Pren, Lithuania - July 30, 1939 in Taunton, Massachusetts) was an American banker, politician and philanthropist.

and he died in Taunton Mass., not New York.


The Wikipedia page for Prienai had nothing on anyone born in 1869. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prienai

No bankers in the economy section https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Lithuanians

It was invented before 1340, most likely by ghettoized non-Christians, because the church condemned it as usury.

  • 1
    Usury typically refers to interest collected from borrowers, not paid on deposits.
    – justCal
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 17:01
  • 2
    Wikipedia said so so it must be true :) xkcd.com/386
    – detrivore
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 23:42

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