The current payments landscape is moving at a blistering pace.
Mobile payments, for example, is a market growing at a 39.2% annual clip, and it will be worth nearly $3 trillion by 2020. At the same time, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the growth in the blockchain world. Every day, new technical problems are being solved, coin market caps are hitting new highs, and Bitcoin is dominating the news cycle.
But, payments hasn’t always been this fast-moving or exciting. In fact, right now is an anomalous moment in the sector – and we’re actually witnessing a rare intersection of multiple disruptive technologies coming to age at the same time.
A Timeline of Payment Disruptions
Today’s infographic comes from Glance Technologies, and it shows a historical timeline of the major disruptions that have occurred in payments, ranging from the Chinese invention of paper money to the birth of Paypal.
It keys in on the new wealth created by these incredible technological advancements – and it also highlights the origins behind many of the crucial pieces of today’s payments landscape.
It took roughly 1,100 years to go from paper money to plastic, 50 years to go from plastic to digital, and just 10 years to go from digital to mobile.
What fundamental change in payments is the next big one that will be visible across all levels of society?
The Next Big Shift
It may be too early to tell for sure what the next society-wide shift in payments will be, but there are definitely some obvious candidates.
Even with the precipitous rise of Bitcoin and its incredible journey to $10,000 and beyond, it’s still easy to underestimate the real possibilities in a decentralized, blockchain-based payments world. Various types of payments will be automated with smart contracts, and many of the world’s largest banks are already deep in experimentation with digital currencies.
In an ultra rosy scenario, it’s even imaginable to say that fiat currency may one day be obsolete. There are still many challenges to overcome, of course, but the blockchain could soon be ubiquitous in everyday payments at a societal level.
Just like the blockchain, the idea of going cashless already has growing adoption – however, it is not yet something that dominates all facets of payments on a societal level. Right now, in the United States, just 38% of people said they would be willing to go completely cash-free.
With the market for mobile payments increasing at a 39.2% CAGR, a fully cash-free world might not be that far off, though.
While the two above trends are the most obvious, there are some dark horses out there. For example, biometrics is one that could change how payments are verified, adding a new layer of security to transactions. Instead of using a smartphone, plastic, or cash, could you be paying for every purchase with a simple fingerprint soon?
Regardless of which of these is the next ubiquitous technology, the next five years of the payments space will certainly be exciting to watch.
Which Countries Feature Women on Banknotes?
Today, only 15% of banknotes feature women. This infographic looks at who these women are and which countries feature them on their currency
Visualizing the Women on Banknotes Worldwide
A study by Swedish loan company Advisa analyzed 1,006 current international banknotes and found that only 15% featured images of women.
Who are these women, and which countries feature them on their bills?
The List: Women on Bills
To create this graphic, Ivett used data from the Standard Catalogue of World Paper Money, compiled by Vox.
According to the dataset, Queen Elizabeth II is the most featured woman worldwide.
|🇦🇱 Albania||100 lekë||Queen Teuta||Queen of Illyria|
|🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda||$5, $10, $20, $50, $100||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇦🇷 Argentina||100 pesos||Eva Perón||First Lady of Argentina|
|🇦🇺 Australia||$50||Edith Cowan||Suffragette|
|🇦🇺 Australia||$10||Mary Gilmore||Poet, journalist|
|🇦🇺 Australia||$100||Nellie Melba||Opera singer|
|🇦🇺 Australia||$5||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇧🇸 Bahamas||$10, $100||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇧🇿 Belize||$2, $10, $20, $50||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇨🇦 Canada||$20||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇨🇻 Cape Verde||2000 escudos||Cesária Évora||Singer|
|🇰🇾 Cayman Islands||$1, $5, $10, $25, $50, $100||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇨🇱 Chile||5000 pesos||Gabriela Mistral||Nobel Prize winner|
|🇨🇴 Colombia||10000 pesos||Policarpa Salavarrieta||Seamstress, spy|
|🇨🇷 Costa Rica||20000 colones||Carmen Lyra||Writer|
|🇨🇿 Czech Republic||50 koruna||Agnes of Bohemia||Bohemian princess|
|🇨🇿 Czech Republic||500 koruna||Božena Němcová||Writer|
|🇨🇿 Czech Republic||2000 koruna||Emmy Destinn||Opera singer|
|🇩🇲 Dominica||$5, $10, $20, $50, $100||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||200 pesos||Mirabal sisters||Sisters who opposed dictatorship|
|🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||500 pesos||Salomé Ureña||Poet and pedagogist|
|🇫🇰 Falkland Islands||5, 10, 20, 50 pounds||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇬🇪 Georgia||50 lari||Queen Tamar||The Queen Regnant of Georgia|
|🇬🇮 Gibraltar||5, 10, 20, 50 pounds||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇬🇩 Grenada||$5, $10, $20, $50, $100||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇬🇬 Guernsey||5, 10, 20, 50 pounds||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇭🇹 Haiti||10 gourdes||Catherine Flon Arcahaie||Created Haitian flag|
|🇮🇸 Iceland||5000 kronur||Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir||Seamstress|
|🇮🇲 Isle of Man||1, 5, ,10, 20, 50 pounds||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇯🇲 Jamaica||$500||Nanny of the Maroons||National heroine of Jamaica|
|🇯🇵 Japan||5000 yen||Higuchi Ichiyō||Writer|
|🇯🇪 Jersey||1 ,5, 10, 20, 50 pounds||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan||50 som||Kurmanjan Datka||Stateswoman|
|🇲🇼 Malawi||200 kwacha||Rose Lomathinda Chibambo||Leader of African Congress|
|🇲🇽 Mexico||500 pesos||Frida Kahlo (and Diego Rivera)||Artist, Communist Party militant|
|🇲🇽 Mexico||200 pesos||Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz||Nun, scholar, poet|
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||$10||Kate Sheppard||Suffragette|
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||$20||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇳🇬 Nigeria||20 naira||Ladi Kwali||Potter|
|🇳🇴 Norway||100 kroner||Kirsten Falgstad||Opera singer|
|🇳🇴 Norway||500 kroner||Sigrid Undset||Nobel Prize winner|
|🇵🇪 Peru||200 soles||Rose of Lima||First catholic saint of the Americas|
|🇵🇭 Philippines||500 pesos||Corazon C. Aquino||First female president in Phillipines|
|🇵🇭 Philippines||1000 pesos||Josefa Llanes Escoda||Founder, Philippines Girl Scouts|
|🇰🇳 St. Kitts and Nevis||$5, $10, $20, $50, $100||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇱🇨 St. Lucia||$5, $10, $20, $50, $100||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🏴 Scotland||50 pounds||Mary Slessor||Missionary, activist|
|🇷🇸 Serbia||200 dinar||Nadežda Petrović||Painter|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||50000 won||Shin Saimdang||Artist, poet|
|🇻🇨 St Vincent and Grenadines||$5, $10, $20, $50, $100||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇸🇭 St. Helena||5, 10, 20 pounds||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇸🇪 Sweden||20 kronor||Astrid Lindgren||Author of "Pippi Lockstocking"|
|🇸🇪 Sweden||50 kronor||Jenny Lind||Opera singer|
|🇸🇪 Sweden||500 kronor||Birgit Nilsson||Opera singer|
|🇸🇪 Sweden||100 kronor||Greta Garbo||Actress|
|🇨🇭 Switzerland||50 francs||Sophie Taeuber-Arp||Painter, sculptor|
|🇸🇾 Syria||500 pounds||Zenobia||Queen of the Palmyrene Empire|
|🇹🇳 Tunisia||10 dinars||Dido||Queen & founder of Carthage|
|🇹🇷 Turkey||50 lira||Fatma Aliye Topuz||First female Muslim novelist|
|🇺🇦 Ukraine||200 hryven||Lesya Ukrainka||Poet, writer|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||5, 10, 20, 50 pounds||Queen Elizabeth II||Queen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||5 pounds||Elizabeth Fry||Prison reformer|
|🇺🇾 Uruguay||1000 pesos||Juana de Ibarbourou||Poet|
|🇻🇪 Venezuela||20 bolívares||Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi||Heroine of War of Independence|
Canada was the first country to use an image of Queen Elizabeth II on their money. In 1935, Canada printed her on a $20 banknote—the British monarch was only a 9-year-old princess at the time. Now, Queen E appears on a variety of different banknotes in 19 different countries. In the Cayman Islands, she’s on their $1, $5, $25, $50, and $100.
A few other queens or royal members have made it onto different banknotes too—Georgia’s 50 lari note has an image of Queen Tamar, who was the Queen of Georgia from 1184 to 1213, and Albania’s 100 lekë features Queen Teuta, a 3rd century queen of an Illyrian tribe.
While royals (especially Queen Elizabeth II) are frequently featured on bills worldwide, women in other positions have also made it onto banknotes.
Authors, singers, poets, and painters are featured on a number of different currencies. For instance, Sweden has Astrid Lindgren—the author of Pippi Longstocking—on their 20 kronor.
Sweden also features three other women on their bills: Birgit Nilsson, Jenny Lind, and Greta Garbo, making their banknote features an even 50/50 split between men and women.
A Quick History of Women Featured on U.S. Banknotes
Essentially the only time a woman was prominently featured on a U.S. banknote was in the late 19th century when Martha Washington—the wife of President George Washington—appeared on a $1 silver certificate.
This dearth of women on U.S. banknotes may soon come to an end. The Biden administration is now speeding up efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, an initiative that was delayed in recent years. When the plan was initially introduced by then Treasury secretary, Jacob Lew, in 2016, the new design was set to be unveiled in 2020 on the centennial of the 19th Amendment (which granted women the right to vote).
Women are Still Underrepresented
And even when women do hold authoritative positions, research has shown they’re taken less seriously than their male counterparts.
That’s why events like International Women’s Day exist. It’s not just a time to celebrate women’s achievements—it’s also a day to shed light on existing gender bias, and ultimately take action to help combat gender inequality.
The Big Mac Index: A Measure of Purchasing Power Parity & Burger Inflation
Spanning from 2004-2022, this animation of the Big Mac Index shows the rise in burger prices, and which currencies may be under or overvalued.
The Big Mac Index: A Measure of PPP and Burger Inflation
The Big Mac was created in 1967 by Jim Delligati, a McDonald’s franchise owner in Pennsylvania. It was launched throughout the U.S. the following year, and today you can buy one in more than 70 countries. However, the price you pay will vary based on where you are, as evidenced by the Big Mac Index.
Spanning from 2004-2022, this animation from James Eagle shows the U.S. dollar price of a Big Mac in select countries around the world.
What Does the Big Mac Index Show?
The Big Mac Index was invented by The Economist in 1986. It is intended to be a lighthearted way to demonstrate the concept of purchasing power parity. In other words, it helps illustrate the idea that market exchange rates between countries may be “out of whack” when compared to the cost of buying the same basket of goods and services in those places.
Given that McDonald’s is one of the biggest companies in the world and the Big Mac is widely available globally, it means that the famous burger can be used as a basic goods comparison between most countries. It also has the advantage of having the same inputs and distribution system, with a few minor modifications (like chicken patties in India instead of beef).
Using the price of a Big Mac in two countries, the index can give an indication as to whether a currency may be over or undervalued. For example, a Big Mac costs ¥24.40 in China and $5.81 in the United States. By comparing the implied exchange rate to the actual exchange rate, we can see whether the Yuan is over or undervalued.
According to the Big Mac Index, the Yuan is undervalued by 34%.
Beyond currency misalignment, the index has other uses. For instance, it shows inflation in burger prices over time. If we compare the price of a Big Mac across countries in the same currency—such as the U.S. dollar—we are also able to see where burgers are cheaper or relatively more expensive.
Burger Costs Around the World
In the animation, all Big Mac prices have been converted from local currency to U.S. dollars based on the actual exchange rate in effect at the time. Below, we show the change in price of a Big Mac in select countries, ordered by January 2022 prices.
|Country||May 2004||January 2022||% change|
Switzerland takes the cake for the priciest Big Mac, followed closely behind by Norway. Both countries have relatively high price levels but also enjoy higher wages when compared to other OECD countries.
Venezuela has seen the largest jump in burger prices, with the cost of a Big Mac climbing nearly 250% since 2004. The country has been plagued by hyperinflation for years, so it’s no surprise to see large price swings in the country’s data.
While it appears that the price of a Big Mac has decreased in Turkey, this is because the prices are shown in U.S. dollars. The new Turkish lira has depreciated against the U.S. dollar more than 90% since it was introduced in 2005.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Russia has the cheapest Big Mac, reflecting the country’s lower price levels. Labor costs in Russia are roughly a third of those in Switzerland.
The Limitations of Burgernomics
The Big Mac Index is useful for a number of reasons. Investors can use it to measure inflation over time, and compare this to official records. This can help them value bonds and other securities that are sensitive to inflation. The Big Mac Index also indicates whether a currency may be over or undervalued, and investors can place foreign exchange trades accordingly.
Of course, the index does have shortcomings. Here are some that economists have noted.
- Non-traded services can have different prices across countries. The price of a Big Mac will be influenced by the costs of things like labor, but this is not a reflection of relative currency values. The Economist now releases a GDP-adjusted version of the Big Mac Index to help address this criticism.
- McDonald’s is not in every country in the world. This means the geographic reach of the Big Mac Index has some limitations, particularly in Africa.
- The index lacks diversity. The index is made up of one item: the Big Mac. Because of this, it lacks the diversity of other economic metrics such as the Consumer Price Index.
Despite all of these limitations, the Big Mac Index does act as a good starting place for understanding purchasing power parity. Through the simplicity of burgers, complex economic theory is easier to digest.
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