Have you ever thought about how strange

Have you ever thought about how strange money is? Small pieces of metal and paper passed from person to person and traded for food, or clothes, or robotic vacuum cleaners. In today’s age we don’t even need anything physical at all, because money has become strings of 1’s and 0’s that endlessly circle the globe. “How did this happen?” you might be asking. Well… to find that out we are going to need to take a look at the evolution of money!Thousands of years ago, in ancient times, way before money existed Humans relied on a system of barter. If you were a farmer, for example, you could trade left over crops for clothes from a tailor, or beer from the local brewery. However the problem with this form of exchange is that the items that were being traded had to be of similar value. You couldn’t for example trade a mango for a brand new wagon. This made bartering quite difficult as both members had to agree upon the value of the items that they were going to trade. It also became quite difficult to carry heavy bags filled with tradeable items from country to country. Eventually we worked a way around that and people started carrying around little tokens that represented the items that they were willing to trade. Soon these tokens were turned into round circles that could represent anything, and that’s where we got ancient coins from. Some of the first recorded coins were created in Lydia, which is now called Turkey, and were made out of a mixture of gold and silver.A thousand years later at about 700 AD, paper money was invented by the Chinese just after they had developed something called wood block printing. They used to call it flying cash, because it had a tendency to be blown away by the wind. When Marco Polo visited China he learnt about this and brought the idea of paper money back to Europe, where they were still using metal coins as a form of money. However despite this paper money wouldn’t see widespread adoption in the west until the mid-1600’s when banks started issuing notes that promised to pay the owner a sum of gold on demand. Merchants then found that it was much easier to trade the notes with each other rather than lugging around huge amounts gold.During the American civil war both sides issued massive amounts of government backed paper currency to fund the war because there wasn’t enough gold to go around.In 1946 the world’s first charge card, creatively named the ChargeIt was introduced. It was fairly limited compared to modern credit cards but it proved such a useful idea that it lead to most of the credit cards that you see today. Finally money entered the digital age during the 1980’s, with the introduction of ATM’s, personal ID numbers and debit cards. As more and more people began using the World Wide Web, electronic money services began to emerge which gave people an alternative to traditional banks.Recently a new phenomenon has evolved called cryptocurrency, you all may know it better as Bitcoin. It is the first form of truly digital money, and was designed for the era of information. It solves many of the disadvantages of physical and electronic money. Bitcoin is the first scarce digital resource to ever exist, and by design there will never be more than 21 Million Bitcoins in circulation. This type of currency is decentralized meaning it is stored across the entire internet and is not controlled by anyone or any country. Bitcoin is also open-source meaning that it does not have a single owner but we all own it.So, it seems we’ve come a very long way from trading goats for wood. While they once dominated, banks are becoming increasingly less important for our daily finances. We started with a cashless society and with the rise of cryptocurrencies cash is on the decline. In the next couple of decades we may witness a phenomenal transformation, where we abandon the gold standard after 5000 years and replace it with Bitcoin. If this occurs it could be the largest transfer of wealth in the history of civilization, and the biggest advancement in money over the last 100 years.