From Moo-Money to Mobile: Fun History of Money and Banking

Fri, 25 May 2012

In the Beginning…There Was Ancient Money

  • The first coins date back to 2000 BC in the Bronze Age where they were shaped like cattle.
  • In the 12th Century during the Crusades, the Knights Templar used a cheque system to provide pilgrims with travel funds, the first Traveler’s Checks!
  • In medieval times, in England, pots were created with a type of clay called “pygg”. Near 1600, an English pot maker was asked to make a “pygg” pot to hold money, though he was unfamiliar with a pygg bank, so he actually made a vessel in the shape of a pig. The “piggy-bank” was born; it had a slender hole on its back so you could put coins in it.

It’s a Whole ‘Nother Country…American Money

  • Before the days of paper money, early Americans traded animal skins, including deer and elk bucks for goods and services and the term “Buck” was born to describe money.
  • The first chartered bank of the United States was the First Bank of the United States, formed in 1791 in Philadelphia by The United States Congress.
  • Ben Franklin invented a process in 1793 to prevent counterfeiting paper money that was not revealed until 1960; perhaps that’s why he is only one of two non-presidents to be pictured on American bills. The other is Alexander Hamilton, the 1st US Treasury Secretary.
  • When it was first introduced up until the early 19th century, paper money was not colored green. It was in 1862 that the Government introduced a secret mixture of green ink into the paper currency and gave rise to the term “Greenbacks” which is still used today to refer to US Dollars.
  • Prior to the Civil War, states issued their own money, Texas even had its own currency during the period it was an independent country.
  • In 1933 during the Great Depression, Congress created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) which initially insured depositors up to $2,500.

Brooklyn Gets All the Street Cred…Credit Cards That Is!

  • In 1946, John Biggins, a Brooklyn, New York, banker introduced the first bank credit card called "Charg-It". The card was used by customers to make a purchase and the bill was then sent to the bank owned by Biggins. The merchant received his money from the bank, which then collected money from the customer. Only those customers and merchants who banked with Biggins could use the card.
  • The Diner’s Club® in 1950 was the first credit card that could be used at multiple locations. It allowed select cardholders to charge meals at 25 exclusive New York restaurants.
  • Visa was originally called BankAmericard, a card offered by Bank of America ® in 1958 in California. By 1970, they had created an association, called the National BankAmericard, Inc. It wasn’t renamed to Visa ® until 1976.
  • In 1984, MasterCard ® became the first credit card to use holographic images. This was done as a means of deterring fraudulent use.
  • Ever notice all your credit cards are of uniform shape and size? Their dimensions are governed by the ISO 7810 standard, an international standard for identification cards, banking cards, as well as driver’s licenses and retail cards.

Rock on to Electric Avenue…Today’s Online and Mobile Banking

  • Chemical Bank ® introduced the first ATM to the American public in 1969. It did little more than dispense cash at first, but the ATM evolved over time to become a true bank-away-from-bank, providing a full suite of financial transactions.
  • Online Banking services started in New York in 1981 when four of the city’s major banks (Citibank®, Chase Manhattan®, Chemical®, and Manufacturers Hanover®) offered home banking services using the videotexThis is a third party link. Please review the third party content guidelines by clicking here for more details. system with a smart keyboard and home TV set.
  • Stanford Federal Credit Union® is considered the first financial institution that provided online internet banking services to all of its customers in 1994.
  • Mobile banking began in 2006 and 2007 when several banks took advantage of web browsing capability on mobile phones.

  Here are some other fun links about banking and the history of money:

What facts are most surprising to you?

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