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Due to a few tenets of Islamic law - especially the injunction against charging interest for profit - modern banking as we know it today was not officially endorsed by Ottoman authorities until the middle of the 19th century. In its place was a quasi-religious network of Waqfs - money lenders who were required to spend all their interest earned on social and religious programs.

Non-Muslim populations were exempt from these strictures, however, which led to the early formation of more familiar banking operations, especially in Galata where enclaves of Greeks, Jews, and Armenians flourished.

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