Written by Metal Team

On September 19, 2018

🤓 From Barter to Bitcoin: The History of Currency

Currency has been around for 3,000 years, but the original currency wasn’t like we know it today. It actually wasn’t paper money or coins, it was the time-honored tradition of barter. Kind of like one big, ancient swap meet.

So how did we go from bartering cows, corn, and shells all the way to the current time of digital currencies and Bitcoin? Well, let’s find out.



Bartering, which is simply trading goods for goods or services. Aka the original Craigslist. Bartering started around 9000 BC by the Egyptians. Cattle and livestock were the first ever recorded trades.

The Romans paid their soldiers in salt, which is where the term salary originated. That party starter is on us.

Bartering worked fine for quite a while, but it had real limitations. For example, if you had two cows and you wanted fifteen apples, you would have to find someone who both wanted cows and had apples to trade. Not an easy task. Then comes the problem of valuation. How many apples is a cow worth? Fifty? Two hundred? Bartering was complex.

That leads us to the next evolution of currency which solved the biggest problem of bartering, having a common unit of account. That’s where coins come in.



With the invention of coins, money, as we know it today, started to take shape. The first coins of record appeared in 3000 BC in Mesopotamia and were called Shekels. Further down the road in 600 BC, the Lydian government minted gold and silver coins and created the first national currency.

Coins solved the biggest problem in bartering and if you’re paying attention you’ll notice that each evolution of currency solved the biggest major problem of the currency that came before it. Double-spend problem anyone?



China created the world’s first paper money during the Tang Dynasty era. (617 A.D. – 907 A.D.) Paper money came about to solve the biggest problem of coinage, they’re very heavy and cumbersome to transport.


The first credit card was created in 1950 by Frank McNamara when he realized he didn’t have enough money to pay for dinner. It was called the Diner’s Club credit card and it moved us one step further, by solving the problem of not having to carry cash or coins. It was, at the time, only accepted at restaurants.

It wasn’t until 1958 when American Express entered the market and brought credit cards into the mainstream.



Jumping forward to 1990 and for those of you who remember, that crunching, baud modem noise, online banking was born. While today we know now it as revolutionary, online banking did not catch on right away. In fact, it would take ten years to actually be widely adopted. Hmm… that sounds familiar… 2019 will be the ten-year mark of the next evolution of currency….


In 2009 Satoshi Nakamoto published his now infamous white paper on Bitcoin and the rest was history. Bitcoin would launch us into the cryptocurrency age by solving a problem the banks tried to solve for years, the double-spend problem.

Basically what that means is if the digital currency can be spent twice or counterfeited, it becomes worthless. Now you can send and receive digital money without the backing of a central bank.


Metal Pay is taking cryptocurrency to the next level. It all started when Marshall Hayner and Glenn Marien decided to tackle the problem of bringing crypto to the masses. Their big vision was to reward the users for using crypto. With Metal Pay, every transaction you make earns you up to 5% in pop! Pop is what we call our reward. Metal Pay will help bring crypto to the people and take its place in the currency history books.

🔥 We hope you enjoyed this brief history of currency.

Where do you think currency is heading next? Let us know on social media and don’t forget to download Metal Pay in the iOS App Store!

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