In the early days of Ming Dynasty， or the 14th century， Shanxi merchants began to trade grain and salt， as a result of taking advantage of enormous military demands of the northern frontier and implementation of the law acting on salt trading regulations， and they succeeded in field operation and gradually came to fame. In the following 200 - 300 years， their influence continuously reached out to more and more fields throughout the ancient land. With multi-layered management， they even explored markets overseas. At one time Shanxi merchants were well known both at home and abroad， and became one of the most important merchant groups in the Ming-Qing period.
In the reign of the Emperor Daoguang in Qing Dynasty， or the 19th century， Shanxi merchants created a form of currency transferring system， called “piaohao”， or draft banks， and later this financial exchange network extending in all directions. Merging commercial and financial capital， Shanxi merchants hold strongly a leading position in the field of finance for nearly a century. But in the late days of the Qing Dynasty， Shanxi merchants fell into a decline when faced with the tremendous changes in the political and economic fields of the last dynasty in Chinese history.