Credit Cards: The Evolution of Digital Currency

June 30, 2022

As we rapidly approach the 65th anniversary of the first mass produced credit cards, we take a look at a brief history of currency and the evolution of modern-day economies and how the credit card has enabled the consumer-market that we know and love today!

Currency & Economy


The earliest forms of economy out-dates currency by up to 7,000 years which saw goods such as salt, cattle and grain exchanged between communities. 


The concept of currency can be dated back as far as 600 BC when archaeologists discovered the earliest known mints in modern-day Turkey, where the elites of Lydia and Ionia used crest embossed silver and gold coins to pay mercenaries. The concept of currency was born. 


As communities evolved and humans began to explore, re-settle and expand the concept of currency and legal tender expanded. Silver and gold became the standard and could be exchanged for labour, goods, food, and real-estate – just like today. 


The Romans vastly grew their Empire by paying mercenaries in silver and gold during campaigns. Showing the value currency holds and continues to hold in economies presently and historically. 


In contemporary times legal tender is still backed by gold reserves with the bank of England physically holding 400,000 bars of gold worth in the region of £200 billion making The Bank of England the second largest keeper of gold globally, 2nd only to the New York Federal Reserve.


Credit Cards and the Impact on Economy


The invention of the credit card (Amex) in 1958 saw a new era emerge for currency, making it easier to track purchases, meaning creditors could make more informed decisions on lending risks. The ability to have a financial audit trail through the introduction of credit and debit cards also allowed legal authorities and banks to spot criminal and fraudulent financial activity and provide more safety to the consumer.


Nowadays, the credit card has evolved into a variety of products from credit building credit cards, balance transfer cards, business credit cards and fuel credit cards.


A Brief History of the Credit Card & Debit Card


Let’s take a quick look at the History of the credit card:


1914: Western Union launched “Metal Money”, the precursor to the consumer credit card.


1946: Banker John Biggins launches the Charg-It card used in a two-block radius of Biggins Bank. 


1950: Diner Club becomes the first multipurpose charge card.


1958: Amex releases the first mass produced credit card in the U.S and Canada.


1960’s: IBM engineer Forrest Parry invents the magnetic stripe used on credit cards and identification badges.


2007: The first mass produced contactless credit and debit cards were introduced in the UK, with a pay threshold of £10.


2014: Apple launches Apple Pay.


2015: Google launches Android Pay.


With the emergence of crypto currency, it is an exciting time to see where digital currency will take us in the future and any improvements that may come with it.


The introduction of electronic payments has allowed transparency, security and made it easier for international payments to be made, whilst making it harder for illegal activities such as money laundering. 

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