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Take a fast-glance trip through the past, present and future of financial technologies


In our recent Future of Money survey, we asked 3,148 Australians for their views on the future of digital money – based on their likes, dislikes and current usage of financial technologies.

The results show that 58% use digital money or financial technology daily. More than half did so mostly on their smartphone. And nearly a third believes that their smartphone will be the only device they use from 2017 onwards.

But how did technology get us to where we are now? And how is it going to change as we move into the future?

Let’s take a fast-glance journey through some of the past, present and future of financial technologies…

1887: Edward Bellamy describes using a card for purchases in his book “Looking Backward”. He uses the term “credit card” 11 times. Turns out, he wasn’t looking backward at all…he was looking very far forward!

Late 1800s – around 1930: Charge coins and medals are often used in place of money, as a kind of IOU.

Early 1900’s: Cards issued by department stores and oil companies have people’s details printed on them. They can be used for cashless purchases, and settled at the end of the month.

1921: Western Union issues a charge card.

1930s – 1950s: The Charga-Plate is used for purchases. This metal plate has the holder’s details and signature embossed, and a transaction involves taking an imprint.

1934: The Air Travel Card allows people to “buy now, pay later”.

1946: The first bank card, Charg-It, is introduced.

1951: The first credit card is issued by New York’s Franklin National Bank.

1951: First conceptualised in a restaurant in 1949, the Diner’s Club Card becomes the first really popular credit card in 1951.

1958: The idea of a revolving line of credit becomes popular, allowing people to use their bank cards at a wider range of retailers.

1958: Bank of America establishes the BankAmerica Service Corporation. They issue the first BankAmericard – later to become Visa in 1977.

1959: The first plastic credit cards are born – American Express.

1966: MasterCharge begins as a rival to BankAmericard. This is the start of MasterCard.

1970’s: Magnetic strips, invented during WW2 to record audio, are first used to hold data on cards.

1992: Credit card chip technology is used for the first time, in France, by Carte Bleue.

1997: Mobil launches Speedpass, the first contactless payment. This technology is later replicated by MasterCard’s PayPass (2002) and Visa’s PayWave (2007).

1997: Mobile payments begin, in Finland. Coca Cola creates vending machines that let people pay for their cokes by sending a text message.

1998: PayPal is created.

2009: Bitcoin, a new type of peer-to-peer online payment is released by Satoshi Nakamoto.

2010: Nice, in southern France, launches the “Nice City of contactless mobile” project. This allows citizens to use transport, student services and other facilities with their latest-generation mobile phones and bank cards.

2011: Research In Motion becomes the first company to have its mobile devices certified by MasterCard Worldwide, giving it PayPass functionality.

2014: Apple launches Apple Pay for its NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled devices, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

2014: SnapChat announces SnapCash, which allows users to send each other money through the app.

2015: The Apple Watch launches in April 2015, and is Apple Pay enabled.

2015 and onwards: What does the future hold?

Bills and other payments via social network? This scenario is looking more and more likely. The end of debit and credit cards? Already, smartphones can scan barcodes, hold coupons, use payment apps, access the web for shopping, pay by text and pay using contactless NFC.   Retina scans at the supermarket? Smartphones are already using fingerprints…can other biometrics be too far behind?   Who knows what the future holds exactly? But what we do know is that digital money and financial technology will probably never stand still.

So remember this: Fair Go Finance will constantly be on the lookout for new, innovative technologies that could help us evolve our services.   And we’ll let you know as soon as we’ve found a better, more convenient way to do things!  Did we get a date wrong? Did we forget a technology? We’re financial experts, not official historians…so please let us know if we left anything out!

Check out our infographic – The Future of Money

The Future of Money as an Infographic

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