Escape to virtuality

Douglas Rushkoff writes eloquently about the rich moving out of the city to comfortable mansions in the country to avoid the pandemic. …

A quarter of a century ago, a window into the money of the future opened in Disney World’s twin town in England, Swindon. Yes, Swindon.

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Last week saw the Silver Jubilee of the launch of the world’s first central bank digital currency (CBDC), Mondex, in my home town of Swindon. I sure a great many people have never heard of it, but it is important to remember what was an important milestone on the road to digital money worldwide.

A quarter of a century ago in Swindon, and in Guelph and in Exeter and in Manhattan and in Hong Kong and in Sydney, consumers were able to send digital fiat currency from one to another without going through a network.

Amazing, and worth celebrating, but not for reasons of pure nostalgia. The lessons learned from Mondex are so valuable and when we add them to the learnings from the last quarter of a century of (debit-centric) mass market payment evolution, at the dawn of the switch from contactless to contact-free payments with the mobile phone at the heart of transactions, I think that we can design a digital Sterling that is not only a genuine cash replacement but a narrative for Britain going forwards, a projection of our values in a vehicle of genuine benefit at home and abroad. …

The real story of the invention of the payment card industry

The excellent author, storyteller, authority on money laundering and all round nice guy Jeffrey Robinson wrote a piece on the origins of the payment card industry, and it was brilliant. The occasion for the story is the death of Matty Simmons (aged 93) who was the last living witness to an event which changed the world but, as Jeffrey points out, never actually happened.

It was the legendary supper in 1949, at 33 West 33rd Street in New York City, that is famous to everyone in the payments business as the birth of the Diner’s Club card and therefore the modern payments industry as we know. The apocryphal version as told by Lana Swartz, who has researched the history of this industry, is that lawyer Frank McNamara forgot his wallet and had to call his wife who drove into the city from Long Island with money for him to pay. …



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