In the seventh century, precious metals—the traditional commodity of exchange—started becoming too unwieldy as trade relations opened up between farflung places. The first paper money was certificates of deposits issued by personalities of repute and backed up by metals or commodities. Paper currency not backed by commodities was first issued by Kublai Khan of the Yuan dynasty in China. Now, China (and countries like Sweden) is leading the race to eliminate paper currency as a whole; digital currencies issued by central banks (CBDCs) are slowly taking root worldwide.
In his book, The Future of Money: How the Digital Revolution Is Transforming Currencies and Finance, Professor Eswar Prasad argues that this historical symmetry is the indication of an impending massive disruption that will affect households, corporations and governments. Prasad is Tolani Senior Professor of Trade Policy at Cornell University.
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