This section is from the book "Banking, Credits And Finance", by Thomas Herbert Russell. Also available from Amazon: Banking, credit and finance (Standard business).
After commerce and the arts had revived in Italy, the business of banking was resumed. The word "bank" is commonly regarded as derived from the Italian word banco, a bench - the Jews in Lombardy having benches in the market-place for the exchange of money and bills. When a banker failed, his bench was broken by the populace; and from this circumstance we have our word bankrupt.
But while this is the derivation generally accepted, some writers have asserted that a more accurate explanation of the use of the word "bank" is that which makes it synonymous with the Italian monte (Latin mons, metritis), a mound, heap, or bank. Thus the Italian Monte di Pieta and the French Mont de Piete signify "a Charity Bank." Bacon and Evelyn use the word in the same sense. Bacon says: "Let it be no bank or common stock, but every man be master of his own money." Evelyn, referring to the Monte di Pieta at Padua, writes: "There is a continual bank of money to assist the poor." Black-stone also says: "At Florence, in 1344, government owed £60,000, and being unable to pay it, formed the principal into an aggregate sum called, metaphorically a Mount or Bank."