The first banks, called 'exchange companies', were established in eight key cities of foreign trade. Though joint stock ventures, they had unlimited responsibility and interest on the capital guaranteed by the government. They were to gather deposits which, however, were not readily forthcoming, and issued con­ vertible notes. Major merchant nouses had to be pressured into joining in these companies, and business made an inconclusive start, but in 1872 a new attempt was made: organising banks after the American system as introduced by Ito Hirobumi.