From Coins To Smartphones: The Evolution Of Payment Methods


I’m no history expert but all throughout history there has been a method of payment from one person to another. Whether you paid service for service or perhaps had a few extra head of livestock you could give in exchange for something else. Payment for services rendered or tangible items has been commonplace for thousands of years. The evolution of payment methods is equally interesting and you could probably go further back than this infographic demonstrates but for sake of truncation, we’ll look at the evolution from coin to smartphone.

View Interactive Version (via Choice Loans).

As you can see, coins and paper money have been holding on tight as the number one method of preferred payment since 450 B.C. and even today many people will only pay using this method. According to the infographic the first check was believed to be written in 1681 but there is evidence the Romans had a check method called praescriptiones. Modern era checking was first developed in England in the 17th century and were called drawn notes.

Charge cards (credit cards) were issued to Western Union’s frequent customers in 1914 but the concept was talked about in  Edward Bellamy‘s 1887 novel Looking Backward. Credit card payments have also taken a solid foothold in the modern payment method and they make banks a lot of money in interest rates. Debit cards and eventually online shopping and payments followed all leading up to payment by smartphone.

Google Wallet was the first significant form of smartphone payment, although it wasn’t embraced very well and only worked on select phones. Now Apple has gotten into the fray with Apple Pay and Google has rebranded and relaunched with Android Pay. Only time will tell if mobile payments will become the new norm of payment method. We’re sure to see metrics over the next few years showing the adoption rate of smartphone payments.

To Top