From bartering to Bitcoin, mankind has found ways to exchange goods going back 130 000 years, with early trade first taking place an estimated 80,000 years ago. This fascinating infographic takes us through the impressive history of trade and money.
In early communities, people could barter and simply remember the exchanges and who owed what. However, as civilization grew and bartering increased, they needed a more efficient means of exchange. At first, people swopped objects like shells and animal teeth. This meant that people could now store the “money” and lend it out.
King Alyattes, from Lydia, Turkey, created the first minted coins in 600BC, but metal coins are heavy and trade was often difficult and required long-distance travel. The Chinese found a solution to the problem. They kept their money in the palace strongroom and issued IOUs.
As the use of paper money grew, people realized that its lack of intrinsic value could present a problem. For a while paper money was backed by gold reserves. In 1971, the United States announced that it would no longer back its money with gold. The floating currency was born. Now the value of the currency was determined by supply and demand and sold internationally on the foreign exchange market.
Electronic money has become the reality in recent years with people trading with credit cards and EFT’s and more recently investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It seems that in the future, tangible money may no longer exist–replaced by electronic transactions and crypto coins kept in virtual wallets.