From the cowry shell to e-currency


Today it is enough to click on the button, swipe the plastic card at the store or simply use device for contactless payment and the necessary amount of money will be written off from the account. Have you ever thought about the development of money from ancient times to the present day?

There are numerous myths about the origins of money. The concept of money is often confused with coinage. Coins are a relatively modern form of money. According to Wikipedia, history of money began around 2500 years ago with the first minting of coins in about the 7th to 6th century BC.

What do we mean by money? Considering the earliest way of using money, it’s something valuable. With years, the material form of money has changed considerably - from barter, cowrie shells, metal money and to today’s electronic currency.

At primitive times there was no notion of “money”. Primitive people did not buy goods, they used barter. Barter is the exchange of goods or services for other goods or services. The problem appeared when those who bartered did not agree with the value of exchange. To solve that problem people invented money.

The first and the oldest form of money (in approximately 9000 - 6000 BC) was not paper money or coins but cattle (cows, sheep, camels and other livestock). Then in 1200 BC cowrie shells gained popularity as new currency. During that time many people and even societies used cowries as money in ancient China, Korea, India, Thailand, African countries, etc. Even in the middle of this century there were some cases fixed when cowries have been used as money in some parts of Africa. Another example of barter is the use of tobacco leaves and animal skins, which served pioneer colonists in America as money.

At the next historical stage of the development of money, coins have taken strong position in the economics of many countries. In the VII century BC a group of seafaring people called the Lydians, first issued and used first metal money - coins in Lydia, the ancient country in Asia Minor. First coins had a shape of a bean. Then Greeks started to mint coins and in about 100 years coins became widespread in Greece, Italy and in Asia Minor.

Some historians proved that approximately in 118 BC leather money was issued in China. This form of money was implemented in everyday life of people and could be considered the first documented type of banknote.

The Chinese also were the first who started to use paper money. Sometimes people call “paper money” Chinese invention. The practice of using paper as money is almost as old as paper itself. First banknotes appeared in China in about 806 AD. The Chinese put the emperor's seal and signatures of the treasurers on a crude paper which was made from mulberry bark. Later in XV century, the Chinese stopped using paper money for several hundred years. In XVIII century paper money appeared in Europe and then paper money became widespread all over the world.

Nowadays coins and banknotes of a particular government are called currency. Currently every country has its own currency, and groups of countries have mutual currencies. At this present time there is list of 182 current official or de facto currencies of the 193 United Nations member states. There are few of them which are popular in usage, trading, conversion, etc.:

NZD - New Zealand Dollar
USD - U.S. Dollar
EUR - Euro
GBP - British pound, sterling
CHF - Swiss Franc
JPY - Japanese Yen
AD - Canadian Dollar
AUD - Australian Dollar
NZD - New Zealand dollar or kiwi

Electronic money is the future.
Electronic currency started its existence with increase of computer usage. In 1861 Western Union demonstrated people the telegraph transfer of money, that became the dawn of electronic money. In 1991 Advanced Research Projects Agency has introduced Arpanet network - network of a set that composed the global Internet. In 1992 America Online took advantage of the new Internet and started offering retail services directly to their subscribers, people could pay using a credit card. PayPal was launched in 1998, which made payment process convenient and easy and with less risk of credit card number theft.

Since then, many of e-currencies were created: Skrill, C-Gold, Perfect Money etc.and many of them have already finished their existence, such as ePassporte or StrictPay. The availability to pay online, which takes few seconds or minutes, is awesome way to save time, moreover it is comfortable and safe to pay any time you want.

Electronic money is quite new and has a long way to go, in the future it will continue to bring changes, contactless payments it’s not the end.

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