What if???

I will preface this by saying I consider myself extremely lucky in a number of ways…

The main one is that I’ve hosted suppers for now going on 7 years at my house every Saturday with an interesting group of folks. Friends, writers, shooters, pilots, photographers, and artists, all of whom are very well educated and the conversation(s) are always interesting, to put it mildly!

A lot of folks talk about ‘writing prompts’ from various places, but we get plenty from the suppers, along with quite a few stories or story ideas.

One night we were talking about the Middle East, Jerusalem, Halawa and hawaladars, the Chinese, and the Silk Road. I remember mentioning the Knights Templar as the first ‘banking institution’ in Europe based on their tax collection and money transfer scheme.

If you’re playing along at home, the Chinese did it first, in the 700s with coins deposited at X, a promissory note and collection at Y some time later along the silk road. The Muslims caught on in the 800s, with Halawa and hawaladars, which were based on social/family associations. The Templers got into the mix in 1000-1300 with servicing to anyone who was travelling or making a pilgrimage.

Soooo, I got to thinking about that and wondering what would happen if the Templer Bank never went away. What if it became a ‘secret’  private bank known only to high net worth individuals…

And set it in space…

Danny looked around nervously. “Are you sure this is the right way?”

Adhit chuckled. “Of course. The people we are going to see don’t, shall we say, advertise what they do.” They turned down what appeared to be a maintenance corridor in the old section of Gany Station, dimly lit by a couple of bulbs flickering in the overhead. “Ah, they are expecting us!” Adhit picked up his pace. “Come, come.”

“Expecting us? Where the hell are we? I didn’t bring enough gun to be in this part of the station.” His hand went automatically to his pistol as one of the two lights blinked out and one behind them blinked on.

Adhit stopped, and Danny almost ran into him as he palmed a reader next to a coded hatch. There was a click, and the hatch slid silently open, revealing a darkened compartment. “Come quickly. Three steps straight in.” Adhit tugged at his arm, and it reminded Danny just how strong Ghorka really are as he took the three steps. The hatch slid closed behind them as the lighting in the compartment came up slowly and flickered.

A tinny voice came from the overhead. “Mr. Gurung, welcome back. Are you here on business?”

“I am. I have a potential customer for you. Captain Danny Ortega.”

“Enter.” A panel in the blank wall slid open, revealing a spacious office. They walked in and Danny goggled at the opulence. A beautiful blonde sat at a desk to his right, and she said, “Welcome back, Mr. Gurung. Mr. Hawkins will be with you in a moment. Would you like your usual refreshment? And Captain Ortega, would you like a black coffee?”

Danny nodded dumbly as Adhit said, “Yes, please.” he glanced at Danny. “For both of us.”

A door opened and a silver-haired, mustached man in a three piece suit stood there smiling. “Adhit, good to see you,” he said in an English accent. He glanced at Danny. “And you, Captain Ortega. Please, come in.” He stepped back from the door and motioned graciously for them to enter.

Adhit gave Danny a gentle shove and propelled him through the door, then steered him to a chair in front of the desk. Danny reached out and touched it in wonder. “It’s…actual wood! How?” He rubbed the arm of the chair and mumbled, “Actual wood, and real…leather.” Looking up, he shook his head. “Amazing.”

The silver-haired man took a seat behind the desk and said, “I’m Arthur Hawkins. I understand you are interested in our product.” The blonde sashayed in, a tray in hand. Setting it on the desk in front of them, she smiled and left, closing the door.

Adhit picked up the cup on the left, took a sip, and sighed. “I miss real Earl Grey.”

Hawkins picked up his cup and smiled. “I’ll make sure you have a tin before you leave. Feel free Captain, the coffee is yours.” Danny picked up the remaining cup and took a cautious sip, then nodded as Hawkins continued. Suddenly all business. He slid a pad of paper across the desk to Adhit as he asked, “Is there a reference?”

Adhit nodded as he wrote L64C on the pad and pushed it back across the desk. Hawkins nodded. “That is an acceptable reference.”

Danny snapped, “He damn well—”

Hawkins cut him off abruptly. “No names. We never use other customers’ names, ever! Do you understand, Captain?”

Suddenly bewildered, Danny nodded.

“Answer yes or no, please.”

“Yes, I understand. I’m sorr—”

Hawkins looked at Adhit. “Are you representing the captain?”

“I am.”

“Very well.” He sipped his tea, looking at Danny as if measuring him, and Danny couldn’t help but wonder if he was passing muster. Hawkins finally said, “Captain, you want a private bank to handle the one hundred four billion credits they awarded you yesterday. Is that correct?”

Danny almost spit out his coffee. How the hell does he know the amount? He recovered and said, “It was… one hundred thirty billion credits, but yes, I want a private investment. Very private. I understand that is your specialty.”

Hawkins shrugged. “We are one of the better ones. And it will only be one hundred four billion credits. GalPat will take ten percent as a tax, and GalLaw will take ten percent as a recovery fee.

Danny sputtered, “They what? They get ten percent for…taking a damn check?”

Adhit laughed at his expression. “We didn’t discuss this last night, but yes, they do.”

Shaking his head, he asked, “How long…have you been in business?”

Hawkins quirked a smile. “Continuously for fifteen hundred thirty-eight years this year.”

Barking a laugh, Danny glanced at Adhit. “Really?”

“Yes, our oldest continuous account is…one thousand three years old. Now in the twentieth generation of that particular family.”

“So, what are you going to do for me, and how much is it going to cost me?”

Hawkins smiled. “First and foremost, we will protect your assets and you. We will make no links to you. No data miners or hackers can get to your assets here or anywhere else. Templar Bank will invest your money in various locations, and we see an average growth of three to five percent per year. Funds will be provided to you as needed via various means as required to support whatever lifestyle you choose. If, worst case, you are kidnapped and held for ransom, we will pay it and rescue you, your wife, or your child or children. Our recovery rate is ninety-nine point six percent on personnel and ninety-seven point three percent on funds.”

He took a sip of his tea and continued, “We charge one quarter of one percent of the principal per year. There are a number of specifics we will go over once you agree to go forward. Any questions?”

So I set it in Rimworld, since I already had characters that it worked for, and did a short story… Which ended up folded into a later Rimworld novel, Diversions. That actually killed two birds with one stone, as I hadn’t figured out ‘how’ I was going to solve the money dilemma Danny had.

I’m not saying this is the ‘right’ way to do things, but it works for me… LOL


What if??? — 10 Comments

  1. The story about the Templar Bank is so damn believable that I think it or something very much like it actually exists. If it doesn’t, somebody will invent it (again). Obviously one must have a certain level of wealth to even be aware of such an institution, a level I’ll never achieve.

  2. Whether we are discussing Hundi, hawala, Chinese Flying Money, or the Jewish diamond exchange infrastructure based in NY and Amsterdam, the price of using chit banking is lower than traditional banking systems. Much of it (I can’t say that all of it) has become digital with USDT being the “coin” of preference because its value is linked to the dollar. Blockchain is replacing the chit. It’s all quite interesting. I’ve lectured on this extensively. If you need to know more, let me know and I’ll give you the latest.

  3. Hey Old NFO;

    Like “Nuke” said, I also find it believable, and working it into the storyline worked. The big thing now is “digital currency” and what is digital can be “zeroed out”. by either a hostile entity or a hostile government, either ours or somebody else.

  4. I twigged to it as soon as “Mr. Hawkins” appeared. That was a nice plot twist and diversion of a lot of detail writing. Much appreciated!

    On the banker side at that level, there’s always conflict between the intermediate clearing houses dealing with chits, notes, and memoranda, and the final adjusters who hold the actual, physical stores of valuable items.

    Digital currency is the latest twist on how “paper” gets used, discounted, or possibly denied for undesirable customers. At some point the holders will haver their own forces or hired mercs to take the quiet fight to the paper pushers. Paying actual gold, platinum, or highly difficult to fabricate gems makes them a more reliable paymaster.

    Could make for some other wild stories about how some Trader locations get “disappeared” before GalPat arrives.

  5. With the “private” institutions in Europe and elsewhere, who knows (except their management) what their history is?
    Every so often we hear inklings of banks involvement with Nazi, Soviet/ Tsarist, or WWII Japanese treasure – I suspect more happened there than we’ll ever hear about.
    For this example, I would suspect that some of the Templars got away and who knows what treasure or knowledge they had and what they did with it?
    There are lots of possibilities…

    • Maybe they buried their treasure on Oak Island, awaiting the day a bunch of Michiganders would come dig it up.

  6. One of the facts that I think most of the Templar theories miss is that they were one of the major lenders in Europe at the time the Pope and the French King suppressed them. Both owed enormous sums to the Templars, and when they sized the Commanderies, the treasuries were empty. The money had been loaned out at interest, and the important treasure was the reciept books showing who owed them how much, which were never found.
    I think it possible that the surviving Templars, and the debts owed to them, were reinvented as the Scots Masons, who, along with the King of Scotland, suddenly became very influential in Europe.

    • They also survived in Spain and Portugal. And… Malta.

      Just wiped out mostly in France and the Holy Roman Empire because, as you said, France and the Pope couldn’t cover their debts.

      • Which is just one example of why I remain sceptical of theories that “Bankers run Everything”.

        Money is only worth what you can get with it, whether in physical property or services. In the long and complex relationship between those with money and those with weapons, those with the weapons tend to end up winning…… and getting the money.

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