Evolution of Money

The technology of money evolved slowly for the majority of human history. Tokens of metal or clay dominated for centuries, it wasn't until the Renaissance that checks arrived and the credit card didn't appear until the 20th Century. <br><br> That is no longer the case. The Internet, smart phones and computer technology have sped up the science of money, resulting in a future filled with alternatives to a wrinkled dollar bill. InnovationNewsDaily took a look at some of the possible futures of money, with everything from cell phones to facial features serving as the wallet for many new species of currency. <br><br> Follow InnovationNewsDaily on twitter @<a href="http://www.twitter.com/#!/news_innovation">News_Innovation</a>, or on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/innovationnewsdaily">Facebook</a>.<br><br> <li><a href="http://www.innovationnewsdaily.com/113-us-lags-even-developing-world-in-using-cell-phones-as-wallets.html">U.S. Lags Even Developing World in Using Cell Phones as Wallets</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.innovationnewsdaily.com/331-scifi-predictions-countdown.html">10 Sci-Fi Predictions That Came True</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.innovationnewsdaily.com/234-mit-transform-world-tech.html">10 Technologies Poised to Transform our World</a></li>

NFC (Near-Field Communication)

Thanks to NFC, the wallet may eventually become obsolete. NFC allows you to use a swipe of your phone to pay for purchases instead of having to pull out a credit card or cash.<br><br> NFC uses data chips, which enable two devices to communicate small amounts of data when they're placed in close proximity. That data could be anything from coupon codes to gift cards and credit card information. The technology has been around since 2003 and is in use in other countries, but the U.S. has yet to find a system that can permeate the market.<br><br> At the moment, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have put their support behind a multiple NFC systems, but have not actually managed to successfully implement one yet. They have recently begun to work with Visa and MasterCard on another attempt; so hopefully within the next few years we'll be able to swipe to pay.

Plastic Money

A few months ago, Canada decided to replace their paper bills with plastic ones, joining the ranks of countries like Australia, China and Mexico.<br><br> These new bills, which are created from polymer substrate instead of traditional cotton paper, will last four to five times longer than their predecessors and be much harder to counterfeit. <br><br> The bills will not hold a crease, which means that you'll never have to spend time trying to flatten a bill that isn't being accepted by a vending machine. And because they are made of plastic, when a bill reaches the end of its life, it can be reprocessed and used to make things like garbage cans and water bottles.

Community Bartering Tokens

In an attempt to keep local businesses afloat and help their residents to make ends meet, various communities across the United States have begun printing their own currency. This money is used at local businesses, making it easy to keep money in the community.<br><br> Typically, within these towns, you can go to a bank and exchange your 90 U.S. dollars for 100 BerkShares in Massachusetts, Ithaca Hours in New York or Cheers in Detroit, and then use that money at local grocery stores, gasoline or even attorney's offices.<br><br> BerkShares, the longest established of the currencies, are accepted at 370 local businesses and since its creation in 2006, has circulated $2.3 million worth of the bills.

Digital Currency

For many of us, the majority of our purchases and bill payments are now done online. At the moment, this involves entering your credit card information or relying on a third party website such as Paypal. This is where digital currencies such as BitCoin come in.<br><br> Bitcoin is form of digital money that be used to purchase real-world goods and services, or even exchanged for dollars and Euros. The rate at which Bitcoins are minted mimics the extraction of minerals, so there is no constant flow of money. The Bitcoin supply increases at a rate of 300 coins every hour on average at the moment, but every four years that rate will fall by a half. According to creators, the total supply will level off at 21 million coins or so around 2030.<br><br> <iframe width="590" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Um63OQz3bjo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br><br> Unlike credit cards, the currency can be used by anyone, anywhere. At the moment, the currency is only accepted by a handful of vendors, but the creators hope that as more users join on, the currency will be what everyone uses to make online purchases.

Biometric Currency

Even more convenient than just swiping a phone, biometric currency involves just the swipe of a finger, or a scan of your eye. <br><br> With fingerprint biometrics, users set up accounts in the store. Customers can scan their fingerprint at an in-store kiosk, enter their phone number, and then submit checking and credit card account information. To make a purchase, they place their finger on a scanner at the register, enter their phone number, and choose how they want to pay. <br><br> And if fingerprints prove insufficiently secure, there is always the iris scan, which takes a reading of the users eye and compares it to one already stored in the system.<br><br> Regardless of which method is used retailers believe that when such systems are put in place, they will save both time and money for the store and the customers.

Food

For those who have a more apocalyptic view of the future, one without resources and quite possibly taking place on a burnt out earth, the idea of food as currency may not seem so far fetched.<br><br> Institutions such as the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) and the United States Department of Agriculture, express concern about food security; whether there will be enough to support the world's growing population and whether those without financial security will continue to be able to afford that food. In addition, possible changes in the global climate could completely change where our food comes from, and how much space we have to produce it. <br><br> There are those out there who believe that when our food resources are stretched thin, that a loaf of bread is going to be much more valuable than the dollar bills you would have formerly used to pay for it.

Single Global Currency

The Euro has already combined the currencies of 17 European Nations and in the near future will do so for ten more of the countries currently part of the European Union. It is easy to imagine that a single currency could eventually spread to the entire world.<br><br> Both Persian Gulf countries and several East African countries are developing their own monetary unions. It is entirely possible that eventually all these monetary unions being formed across the globe could all be folded into a single one, creating a currency that is used the world over. Then again, the trouble caused in France and Germany by the economic collapse of their southern Euro partners has made many nations so skittish about committing to monetary entanglement with their neighbors that a global currency may not be in the cards any time soon.

Cell Phone Minutes

In many countries in Africa, pre-paid airtime is quickly becoming the 'virtual' currency, replacing conventional currency. <br><br> There are around 400 million cellular phones in Africa that are being used for music downloads, messaging, and banking. Uganda and Kenya have pioneered cash transfers by phone, through programs like M-Pesa and Me2U, people are able to send money to relatives hundreds of miles away. In order for these programs to work though, mobile phones need minutes. Most people in Africa rely on pre-paid cards to get those minutes, which has made them incredibly valuable. <br><br> At times, cell phone credit has become more valuable than cash. Charities have even begun distributing the phone cards, which recipients then use to buy food and other essentials.

Credit, Debit or Digital: Currencies of the Future