Cash – Card – Phone: Learn About The Amazing Evolution Of Payment Methods
Throughout history, there has been a constant need to exchange goods and services. However, it took centuries until people found the right and most reliable way for this exchange – currency.
Even after it was discovered, it went through a lot of change during the development of civilization.
Read this article to see how payment methods evolved.
How did payment methods evolve throughout history?
The first system of payments came in the form of a barter during the Neolithic era. Barter is a method where material goods or services are exchanged between people in a way that the value is measured and then they determine the quantity one has to give to the other. It relates to the early stages of agriculture and livestock societies (most probably before 7000 BC).
The first official currency ever recorded in history are coins and they appeared approximately between 680 and 560 BC on the territory that today belongs to Turkey. This payment method escalated because of the problems caused by barter because there were difficulties with measuring transactions. The biggest issue was that some payments were perishable and therefore could not be accumulated.
Coins were produced out of precious metals because of their rarity, so the value was also determined by rarity and purity (silver, gold, etc.). There were multiple forms that coins took, but it was eventually decided that a circular form is the most practical so it was adopted worldwide. We still have coins today and they represent smaller amounts of a certain currency.
Banknotes and paper money
At a certain point in history, there was a need for a more practical alternative to metal coins because large amounts were uncomfortable to carry on your person. Banknotes were introduced in the same country that invented paper – China – in the 7th century. However, it took around 200 years for them to be recognized as official currency.
Paper money, or cash, is still widely used in the world today. Even though there are better and safer methods of payment, people still use this type. Another fun fact is that, until the 1970s, every banknote a certain country issued had to be backed by some amount of gold.
Bills of exchange and checks
Around four centuries after banknotes were adopted, Italians came up with another method of payment. In the 12th century, they introduced bills of exchange which represented a document that obliged the person who borrowed money to give it back to the creditor (or another person authorized to receive the payment).
In the 18th century, a similar type of payment came in the form of cheques. However, these paper documents are connected to the English crown. Cheques are still used today and you can cash them in your bank.
Compared to the other payment methods listed above, this is a relatively young way that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century (1914). At the time, the Western Union company created a so-called loyalty card for the most exclusive customers. This card gave them access to a line of credit that didn’t have to be backed by cash and they didn’t need to have as much money in their bank account.
However, it took 44 years until banks started offering credit cards as a payment solution. In 1958 the Visa card emerged. These cards are still used today and allow the customer to go into a certain debt they are later obliged to pay so that the card would not be blocked. Credit card debts can sometimes create a problem for a person because they are not aware of how large it is until it is demanded of them to pay back the borrowed money.
The Internet, aka the World Wide Web that arrived in 1990, a revolution occurred in the exchange of goods and services. This new channel of communication that today connects the entire planet, created a unique and much easier way to send and receive payments. One of the pioneers that started this revolution was the company Peapod through which you could buy groceries from your home if you had a computer (not everyone had them back in the 90s).
The phenomenon of the Internet is rapidly developing in recent years, and so does the method of digital payments. With the introduction of new technologies, mostly smartphones, it is possible today to pay from wherever you have access to the World Wide Web (the street, from home, cafes, while on the road).
Phones are today very often used because many apps are created for this reason. For example, the Sikhona Money Transfer app is one of the most reliable payment methods out there. If you are working as a freelancer or just work for a firm outside your country, you need to have an account. Find out what your options are.
In the late 90s, the Internet community came up with a new, virtual type of currency that is separate from the conventional ones accepted in the world. In 1998, Wei Dai proposed an idea to create a decentralized type of currency that was supposed to be based on cryptography that would control it. The concept he suggested brought the birth of cryptocurrency later on, and the first attempt to create it came from David Chaum who tried to make it by using DigiCash and eCash.
However, there were no successful endeavors in this type of currency until eleven years after it was first recommended. In 2009, a programmer using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto created the first successful cryptocurrency, called bitcoin. It is today, one of the most valuable assets a person can possess since the price of one is counted in tens of thousands of dollars (56,167,20 during the writing of this article). Even though the value changes all the time everyone who holds a certain amount can consider themselves rich.
Today, many people are using bitcoins as a payment method, most famously the organization called WikiLeaks since all other methods of donations towards them have been cut. Many people also created supercomputers that, so to say, mine for this cryptocurrency, and there is a lot of competition out there. Other cryptocurrencies that have a certain value are the following:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC)
- Bitcoin BEP2 (BTCB)
- yearn.finance (YFI)
- Maker (MKR)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Binance Coin (BNB)
As you see certain payment methods come and go, and certainly stay and even keep developing. Today, apps seem to be the most reliable one. However, cryptocurrency is becoming more and more popular because of its ever-growing value. It is also safer to carry only a credit card with a pin code instead of cash that can easily be stolen because it’s in physical form. From everything offered, apps and cards are probably the best form of payment to date.