Since time began, humans have exchanged value to improve our lives. In the beginning, simple bartering laid the foundations for today’s advanced global economy. Farming and rearing livestock allowed individuals to specialize in specific deployments of labor, while still reaping the rewards of the work of others.
By 1100 B.C., people in China have already started using small replicas of goods from bronze, which eventually developed into rounded “coins.” But it wasn’t until 600 B.C. that the first “official” currency as a token of value was invented, with the accolade going to the time of King Alyattes in Lydia, in modern-day Turkey. The oldest coin ever discovered bears the image of a roaring lion, setting in train the progress of the innovation in money that has led to economic development and the betterment of global societies.
The Romans adopted the metallic money around 500 B.C., when the first Roman coins were produced in Italy. It continued to be minted for another eight centuries across the Roman Empire, until the coins were debased to fund their militarism and public works programs, and ultimately sped up their decline.
By 1250 A.D., a currency called the Florin from Florence was being widely accepted across Europe, almost equivalent to a modern-day Euro connecting economies across the continent.
Later in the century, the adventures of Marco Polo brought back the idea of paper money from China, and using notes to represent coin values. However, the first bank notes didn’t appear until as late as 1661, and took some time to become widely used as a proxy for coins.
Funding by telegram was in use in the late 1800s, a sort of precursor to modern wire services and e-money. But it was only in 1946 when this went a step further with credit cards,