Infographic: A Timeline of Every Major Disruption in Payments
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A Timeline of Every Major Disruption in Payments

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A Timeline of Every Major Disruption in Payments

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.

A Timeline of Every Major Disruption in Payments

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.

Blockchain
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.

100% Cash-Free
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.

Other
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.

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Technology

Visualized: The State of Central Bank Digital Currencies

Central bank digital currencies are coming, but progress varies greatly from country to country. View the infographic to learn more.

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Visualized: The State of Central Bank Digital Currencies

Central banks around the world are getting involved in digital currencies, but some are further ahead than others.

In this map, we used data from the Atlantic Council’s Currency Tracker to visualize the state of each central banks’ digital currency effort.

Digital Currency – The Basics

Digital currencies have been around since the 1980s, but didn’t become widely popular until the launch of Bitcoin in 2009. Today, there are thousands of digital currencies in existence, also referred to as “cryptocurrencies”.

A defining feature of cryptocurrencies is that they are based on a blockchain ledger. Blockchains can be either decentralized or centralized, but the most known cryptocurrencies today (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.) tend to be decentralized in nature. This makes transfers and payments very difficult to trace because there is no single entity with full control.

Government-issued digital currencies, on the other hand, will be controlled by a central bank and are likely to be easily trackable. They would have the same value as the local cash currency, but instead issued digitally with no physical form.

Central Bank Digital Currencies Worldwide

105 countries are currently exploring centralized digital currencies. Together, they represent 95% of global GDP. The table below lists the data used in the infographic.

CountryStatusUse Case
NigeriaLaunchedRetail
The BahamasLaunchedRetail
JamaicaLaunchedRetail
AnguilaLaunchedRetail
Saint Kitts and NevisLaunchedRetail
Antigua and BarbudaLaunchedRetail
MontserratLaunchedRetail
DominicaLaunchedRetail
Saint LuciaLaunchedRetail
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesLaunchedRetail
GrenadaLaunchedRetail
SwedenPilotRetail
LithuaniaPilotRetail
UkrainePilotUndecided
KazakhstanPilotRetail
RussiaPilotRetail
ChinaPilotBoth
ThailandPilotBoth
Hong KongPilotBoth
South KoreaPilotRetail
Saudi ArabiaPilotWholesale
United Arab EmiratesPilotWholesale
SingaporePilotWholesale
MalaysiaPilotWholesale
South AfricaPilotBoth
CanadaDevelopmentBoth
BelizeDevelopmentUndecided
HaitiDevelopmentBoth
VenezuelaDevelopmentBoth
BrazilDevelopmentRetail
TurkeyDevelopmentRetail
IranDevelopmentRetail
BahrainDevelopmentWholesale
IndiaDevelopmentBoth
MauritiusDevelopmentBoth
BhutanDevelopmentBoth
CambodiaDevelopmentRetail
IndonesiaDevelopmentBoth
PalauDevelopmentBoth
AustraliaDevelopmentBoth
JapanDevelopmentBoth
SpainDevelopmentRetail
FranceDevelopmentBoth
NetherlandsDevelopmentRetail
SwitzerlandDevelopmentWholesale
ItalyDevelopmentUndecided
GermanyDevelopmentUndecided
EstoniaDevelopmentRetail
LebanonDevelopmentRetail
IsraelDevelopmentRetail
Euro AreaDevelopmentBoth
United StatesResearchRetail
MexicoResearchRetail
GuatemalaResearchUndecided
HondurasResearchUndecided
Trinidad andd TobagoResearchUndecided
ColombiaResearchUndecided
PeruResearchUndecided
ParaguayResearchUndecided
ChileResearchRetail
IcelandResearchRetail
UKResearchBoth
MoroccoResearchRetail
GhanaResearchRetail
NamibiaResearchUndecided
EswatiniResearchBoth
MadagastarResearchRetail
ZimbabweResearchUndecided
ZambiaResearchUndecided
TanzaniaResearchUndecided
RwandaResearchUndecided
UgandaResearchUndecided
KenyaResearchRetail
TunisiaResearchWholesale
OmanResearchUndecided
KuwaitResearchRetail
JordanResearchUndecided
GeorgiaResearchRetail
BelarusResearchUndecided
NorwayResearchRetail
Czech RepublichResearchUndecided
PakistanResearchRetail
NepalResearchUndecided
BangladeshResearchUndecided
MyanmarResearchUndecided
LaosResearchBoth
VietnamResearchUndecided
MacauResearchUndecided
TaiwanResearchBoth
PhilippinesResearchRetail
New ZealandResearchRetail
VanuatuResearchUndecided
FijiResearchUndecided
TongaResearchUndecided
PalestineResearchRetail
JordanResearchUndecided
AustriaResearchWholesale
HungaryResearchRetail
BermudaInactiveUndecided
Sint MaartenInactiveRetail
CuraçaoInactiveRetail
ArgentinaInactiveUndecided
UruguayInactiveRetail
DenmarkInactiveRetail
AzerbaijanInactiveUndecided
EgyptInactiveUndecided
North KoreaInactiveUndecided
FinlandInactiveRetail
EcuadorCancelledRetail
SenegalCancelledRetail

When aggregated, we can see that the majority of countries are in the research stage.

central bank digital currencies by status

We’ve also divided the map by region to make viewing easier.

Africa

Africa digital currencies

Asia

Asia digital currencies

Europe

Europe digital currencies

Middle East

Middle East digital currencies

South America

South America digital currencies

North America

North American digital currencies

What are the Benefits?

A major benefit of government-issued digital currencies is that they can improve access for underbanked people.

This is not a huge issue in developed countries like the U.S., but many people in developing nations have no access to banks and other financial services (hence the term underbanked). As the number of internet users continues to climb, digital currencies represent a sound solution.

To learn more about this topic, visit this article from Global Finance, which lists the world’s most underbanked countries in 2021.

The 9%

Just 9% of countries have launched a digital currency to date.

This includes Nigeria, which became the first African country to do so in October 2021. Half of the country’s 200 million population is believed to have no access to bank accounts.

Adoption of the eNaira (the digital version of the naira) has so far been relatively sluggish. The eNaira app has accumulated 700,000 downloads as of April 2022. That’s equal to 0.35% of the population, though not all of the downloads are users in Nigeria.

Conversely, 33.4 million Nigerians were reported to be trading or owning crypto assets, despite the Central Bank of Nigeria’s attempts to restrict usage.

Status in the U.S.

America’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, has not decided on whether it will implement a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Our key focus is on whether and how a CBDC could improve on an already safe and efficient U.S. domestic payments system.
– Federal Reserve

To learn more, check out the Federal Reserve’s January 2022 paper on the pros and cons of CBDCs.

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Misc

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

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notable women on banknotes

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?

This graphic by Ivett Kovács and Gabrielle Merite visualizes women on banknotes around the world, showing their main occupations, and the value of the banknotes they’re featured on.

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.

CountryDenomination(s)WomanDescription
🇦🇱 Albania100 lekëQueen TeutaQueen of Illyria
🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda$5, $10, $20, $50, $100Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇦🇷 Argentina100 pesosEva PerónFirst Lady of Argentina
🇦🇺 Australia$50Edith CowanSuffragette
🇦🇺 Australia$10Mary GilmorePoet, journalist
🇦🇺 Australia$100Nellie MelbaOpera singer
🇦🇺 Australia$5Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇧🇸 Bahamas$10, $100Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇧🇿 Belize$2, $10, $20, $50Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇨🇦 Canada$20Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇨🇻 Cape Verde2000 escudosCesária ÉvoraSinger
🇰🇾 Cayman Islands$1, $5, $10, $25, $50, $100Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇨🇱 Chile5000 pesosGabriela MistralNobel Prize winner
🇨🇴 Colombia10000 pesosPolicarpa SalavarrietaSeamstress, spy
🇨🇷 Costa Rica20000 colonesCarmen LyraWriter
🇨🇿 Czech Republic50 korunaAgnes of BohemiaBohemian princess
🇨🇿 Czech Republic500 korunaBožena NěmcováWriter
🇨🇿 Czech Republic2000 korunaEmmy DestinnOpera singer
🇩🇲 Dominica$5, $10, $20, $50, $100Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic200 pesosMirabal sistersSisters who opposed dictatorship
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic500 pesosSalomé UreñaPoet and pedagogist
🇫🇰 Falkland Islands5, 10, 20, 50 poundsQueen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇬🇪 Georgia50 lariQueen TamarThe Queen Regnant of Georgia
🇬🇮 Gibraltar5, 10, 20, 50 poundsQueen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇬🇩 Grenada$5, $10, $20, $50, $100Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇬🇬 Guernsey5, 10, 20, 50 poundsQueen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇭🇹 Haiti10 gourdesCatherine Flon ArcahaieCreated Haitian flag
🇮🇸 Iceland5000 kronurRagnheiður JónsdóttirSeamstress
🇮🇲 Isle of Man1, 5, ,10, 20, 50 poundsQueen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇯🇲 Jamaica$500Nanny of the MaroonsNational heroine of Jamaica
🇯🇵 Japan5000 yenHiguchi IchiyōWriter
🇯🇪 Jersey1 ,5, 10, 20, 50 poundsQueen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan50 somKurmanjan DatkaStateswoman
🇲🇼 Malawi200 kwachaRose Lomathinda ChibamboLeader of African Congress
🇲🇽 Mexico500 pesosFrida Kahlo (and Diego Rivera)Artist, Communist Party militant
🇲🇽 Mexico200 pesosSor Juana Inés de la CruzNun, scholar, poet
🇳🇿 New Zealand$10Kate SheppardSuffragette
🇳🇿 New Zealand$20Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇳🇬 Nigeria20 nairaLadi KwaliPotter
🇳🇴 Norway100 kronerKirsten FalgstadOpera singer
🇳🇴 Norway500 kronerSigrid UndsetNobel Prize winner
🇵🇪 Peru200 solesRose of LimaFirst catholic saint of the Americas
🇵🇭 Philippines500 pesosCorazon C. AquinoFirst female president in Phillipines
🇵🇭 Philippines1000 pesosJosefa Llanes EscodaFounder, Philippines Girl Scouts
🇰🇳 St. Kitts and Nevis$5, $10, $20, $50, $100Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇱🇨 St. Lucia$5, $10, $20, $50, $100Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland50 poundsMary SlessorMissionary, activist
🇷🇸 Serbia200 dinarNadežda PetrovićPainter
🇰🇷 South Korea50000 wonShin SaimdangArtist, poet
🇻🇨 St Vincent and Grenadines$5, $10, $20, $50, $100Queen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇸🇭 St. Helena5, 10, 20 poundsQueen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇸🇪 Sweden20 kronorAstrid LindgrenAuthor of "Pippi Lockstocking"
🇸🇪 Sweden50 kronorJenny LindOpera singer
🇸🇪 Sweden500 kronorBirgit NilssonOpera singer
🇸🇪 Sweden100 kronorGreta GarboActress
🇨🇭 Switzerland50 francsSophie Taeuber-ArpPainter, sculptor
🇸🇾 Syria500 poundsZenobiaQueen of the Palmyrene Empire
🇹🇳 Tunisia10 dinarsDidoQueen & founder of Carthage
🇹🇷 Turkey50 liraFatma Aliye TopuzFirst female Muslim novelist
🇺🇦 Ukraine200 hryvenLesya UkrainkaPoet, writer
🇬🇧 United Kingdom5, 10, 20, 50 poundsQueen Elizabeth IIQueen of U.K., CAN, AUS, NZ+
🇬🇧 United Kingdom5 poundsElizabeth FryPrison reformer
🇺🇾 Uruguay1000 pesosJuana de IbarbourouPoet
🇻🇪 Venezuela20 bolívaresLuisa Cáceres de ArismendiHeroine 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.

martha washington 1 dollar silver note

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

It’s worth noting that women are still consistently underrepresented in positions of power, and in the media.

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.

Want to be part of the change? Learn more about Women’s Day, or donate to fundraising efforts for female-focused charities.

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