Tally (割符)

Tally (saifu or wappu) was a certificate stamp used to settle money transactions between distant lands in medieval Japan, and it became the origin of currency exchange.

Similar to the currency exchange of later days, tally worked as follows: one party bought a tally issued by a merchant near the other end to buy merchandise and sent the tally to the other party in advance; the other party requested the issuer to cash the tally he had received, and settled the transaction with money.

In the Kamakura period, it was used to avoid the trouble of having to carry the nengu (annual tribute, land tax) from shoen. In the early Muromachi period, tally was used as a means of settlement in commercial transactions, and in the major commercial towns such as Kyoto, Nara, Sakai and Hyogonotsu, specialized dealers called 'saifuya' and 'kaesenya' flourished. In the Edo period, a financial network was formed with Osaka at its center, which developed into a national currency exchange system.