Which came first – Credit Cards or the Australian Dollar

At the regular Sydney Bitcoin meetups recently I asked a group of fellow Australians which they think came first – the credit card or the Australian dollar?

Knowing most of them (like me) were born after the Australian dollar was introduced in 1966, I thought they might be surprised, if they didn’t already know, how early an invention credit cards were.

The introduction of the Australian Dollar was a metric move, replacing the Australian Pound, shillings and pennies with a catchy ditty and public information campaign. It’s so weird to watch in the 21st century but it really invokes the idea of fear of change (no pun intended).

According to this page on the history of Credit Cards this familiar technology is an invention from the 1950s or earlier. Depending on how you interpret my question, you can say that credit card are newer or older than the Australian dollar. The way I intended it, however was not the local introduction of an Australian credit card, just the invention of the credit card product.

American Express was available in Australia prior to 1966 but it was probably not very widely accepted or held there. The introduction of Australia’s first local brand credit card, BankCard occurred in 1974. I remember my parents wondering and asking merchants if they accepted BankCard and the frequent chuckle response “no.” Just like is common today with Bitcoin.

Who cares?

The relevance of my question was really to highlight that credit cards are a product of an earlier era. It was an invention used to solve a problem in a time before the internet, mobile phones and personal computers – even before commercial TV. It’s poorly suited to the internet era. Credit card transaction data is not even encrypted as it travels over the wires from the merchant to the bank. Also, currencies tend to be a lot newer and have much shorter lifespans than we might imagine. I learned a lot about this reading this challenging article: Five Things you Need to Know about The Economy

What are your thoughts?

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