Beyond the ironic quality of a Franciscan friar writing about the future of money, it really is a fascinating topic. A recent issue of Time Magazine carried a series of articles under the unifying moniker “The Future of Money.” The coverage included a short history of currency and the means of exchange, an explanation of the world of NFTs, and the movement of El Salvador to establish crypto-currency as nationally legal tender. This articles are free to Time subscribers but available under Time’s limited access program. Both are well worth the read.
Things change in time. It was c.650 BC when Greeks began using metal coins – and I am sure there were naysayers. Circa 1000 AD, paper money was introduced in China – and they were naysayers. About 200 years later, banking began in China when an enterprising merchant told customers they could leave their bulky coins and paper “on deposit” with him for which he handed over claim checks…. which soon became a new currency.
Here in the United States banks used to issue heir own currency. “The $2 bill from Stonington Bank in Connecticut had a whale on the front; the $5 bill from the St. Nicholas Bank of New York City had a picture of Santa Claus. At one point, private banks were printing more than 8,000 different kinds of money.” (Time Magazine)
That gave way to a national currency backed by gold or silver… until 1933 when the nation left the gold standard. Credit cards appeared in 1950, ATMs started in 1969, debit cards started in 1994, and then came online banking, peer-to-peer apps like Venmo and Zelle, and then in 2009 came this odd thing called Bitcoin. El Salvador has moved to bitcoin as legal tender alongside the US dollar. The article seems pretty even handed about the risks/rewards, opportunities/dangers in the many spheres that make up life in El Salvador.
People were pretty sure that leaving the gold standard in 1933 would initiate the end-times. We adjusted. Bitcoin users might be unknowingly marked with the “sign of beast” (Rev 13:16-18). Probably not. Still, I have no plans at this point in my life to begin using bitcoin. I took a pass on ATMs, debit cards, and Venmo – and life continues on…. say the Franciscan friar who is not exactly a cog in the wheels of the economy.
They were interesting articles. Enjoy.
p.s. If you want to know more about bitcoin, the internet is overflowing with information. But as long as you are here, I have written one previous article about bitcoin.