Rishengchang Exchange Shop
Richangshen Exchange Shop (Piaohao) in Pingyao was established in 1823 of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and is the first private financial organisation of China majoring in deposit schemes, loans and remittance services. Its headquarters were situated at Pingyao old town with an area of 1,600 square metres; its 35 plus branches are widely spread all over China mainly in those big commercial cities. The business still survives, playing an important role in the development of civil economy and industries.
Rishengchang Exchange Shop was fully restored in 1995, and has around twenty rooms and three courtyards on a north-south central axis. In the front of the compound, five rooms facing the street act as the gate of the shop. The board with the shop name hangs in central position above the five rooms. The counters are arranged on either side of the front yard. The three rooms in the middle courtyard house include the exchange center, where primary operations were carried out. Guest rooms are to be found in the wings beside the main hall. In the rear court there are five main halls, serving mainly as the accommodation for the senior staff and VIP customers.
For security reasons, a net made from tiny metal thread was covered over the top of the whole compound. Small bells were added on the net to make an alert if someone tried to enter the premises.