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The way we used to pay.
Charting the long history of money: 6000 BC to 2000 AD
We’re now a nation that exchanges more electronic money than physical cash, but most of us don’t give a second thought to the tap/swipe routine that makes modern payments possible. Money may be nothing more than a medium of exchange, but that medium has changed so drastically over time that it’s now barely recognisable as ‘money’ at all.
However, it’s important to remember that our cash dealings declined very slowly. It’s only in the last decade that cash has faced its strongest competition from credit cards, digital wallets, wearable payment technology and even virtual currencies. Some of the principles of early payment forms and trade are even returning, albeit online, in the form of crowdsourcing, Bitcoin and swap sites (you’ll find loads of information online).
But, despite the snail’s pace progression, the end of cash is a distinctly possible concept. Predictions from the BBC state that cash volumes are expected to fall by over 30% in the next decade, and that’s just one of the compelling statistics out there.
But before we become completely electronic it’s worth looking at the sheer scale of what it took to get us here, and what still stands in our way.
Below you’ll see the first in a three-part series on the history of money. To see how it progresses, take a look at What will the future of money look like?