According to the BBC, payment options in the UK have changed dramatically in recent years. Certain events have changed the financial landscape significantly – but how did we get to where we are today? Here’s a quick look back through the centuries:

Seventeenth century

Believe it or not, cheques have been around for hundreds of years and were once of high importance for merchants and traders. The earliest known cheque was drawn in 1659 at an account at Clayton and Morris, but this would have been handwritten.

Towards of the end of the seventeenth century, things developed even more with the introduction of banknotes. These were issued by the newly-established Bank of England, but after 1696 were not produced for sums of less that £50. As the average annual income was only £20 back then, most people never even got to use one!

Eighteenth century

Credit cards are popular these days, but in the eighteenth century people largely relied on bank notes, particularly the £5 note which was introduced in 1973. These remained the lowest denomination until 1797, but when a bullion shortage occurred during the war against France, £1 and £2 notes were brought into circulation.

Nineteenth century

During the nineteenth century, the first full printed notes were introduced. This was a significant development in history, as it meant the cashier no longer had to write the name of the payee on the banknote or sign each one individually. The phrase: “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of…” appeared for the first time and this wording has not even changed today.

Twentieth century

Following the introduction of printed notes, the Queen’s head started to appear on English money. This was all very exciting, but things really started to change when the first credit card was introduced in 1966. This was followed by the first debit card in 1987, which also revolutionized the way we spend. Ten years later and the first internet banking services were introduced and things haven’t been the same since.

Twenty first century

By 2003 Chip and PIN credit cards were taking the world by storm and in 2007 contactless cards started to appear. The introduction of PayPal and more advanced internet banking services has also made it easier than ever to make payments and use a credit card online – as has the continuous development of mobile? banking apps.

There are sure to be even more developments in the pipeline, but what do you expect to happen next?



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Sheri McDonald is a family lifestyle blogger who has been sharing her parenting and travel adventures online for the past eight years. You can find her discovering the world with her children when she's not at home enjoying a good book.


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