Germany evoked several surprises during the global financial crisis of 2008. The high level of engagement of Germany's banking sector in US securities and the consequently substantial losses contradict the common view of a domestic-oriented, bank-based German financial system. This chapter provides the broader field of financial system studies, outlining the potential of the geographical classification of decentralized and centralized banking to explore the impact of finance on economic development. It introduces the research object, the German banking system, and outlines the methodology. The chapter presents the empirical results of the study by contrasting the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) lending of regional and large banks. It compares the organization of lending processes between the regional and large banks by reviewing the human and non-human actors involved. This chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book.