We are all familiar with post-payment, right? Credit cards have become a post-payment media for us. Credit cards let us purchase things on loan which we have to pay later within a given period. So, now we do not have to carry cash with us all the time, which definitely cuts some slack in our wallets and offers a great deal of security.
So, Where It All Started?
Would you if I believe I say, the idea of making credit cards actually came from a fiction novel? Yes, it is true! The first-ever idea to purchase something using a card was first mentioned in a utopian fiction novel by Edward Bellamy, named Looking Backward. The term 'Credit Card' also came from the novel.
Now, today's credit cards had to evolve from the time they first came to use. You have to understand the credit cards actually came from the credit system. If that's the case, the Code of Hammurabi was the first credit system in ancient Babylon, which you may know as Iraq today. Fast-forwarding to the late 18th century and earth 19th century, after the westward expansion. At that time merchants used to use metal coins or metallic plates to credit farmers and ranchers forgo paying until the harvest time. These Coins or plates kind of looked like military dog tags, and they contained the names and some sort of account numbers of the farmers and Ranchers.
In the late 30s, more specifically in 1934, American airlines first launched Air Travel Cards. This card makes the ticket purchasing process very simple. By using an Air Travel Card, the traveler could purchase a ticket but pay later. It was really convenient especially if he/she was in a hurry and low on cash. At first only a few airlines adopted the charge card system. By 1940, almost all the major airlines of America were bright under the wings of the card system and in 1948, the card went international and became popular outside of the USA as well.
In 1946, the first Bank Issued charge card was originated by a Brooklyn banker named John Biggins. Back then people used to call it the Charge-it card.
In the early 1950, the first Diners Club Card was launched. The main concept behind this card was to buy different merchants by paying with one card. The masterminds behind this idea were the two founders of Diners Club, Ralph Schneider, and Frank McNamara. To be honest, this was the beginning of modern credit cards.
In the year 1950, Bank of America took the first step to make things even more advanced and launched the first BankAmerica Credit Card in Fresno, California. As the popularity was growing day by day, in 1966, BankAmerica became international. Decades later the card changed its name to the VISA card, which we all have heard of. The reason was to recognize and appreciate the international acceptance of the card. 1966 was also the year when Master Card was first issued. Some banks of California created an interlink bank card association and which gave birth to the Master card.
In 1966, the UK was the second country to adapt to credit cards after BankAmerica became international. Familiarizing credit cards was harder in some countries than others, especially in France, Germany, and Switzerland. As these countries were really dependent on the cash-oriented payment method, adapting to a totally cashless transaction process was not easy for them.
What Can Modern Credit Cards Do These days?
Where to start? First of all, if you are a credit card user, your cash-carrying days are over. Now that most of the markets and shops have credit card processing machines, you don't need to pay in cash anymore. Your credit card is secured with a secret password that only you would know. So no one, in general, can loot your money. For online shopping, most of the online shops receive payment via debit or credit cards along with digital wallets. Now, there are some sectors where you cannot make a payment without a credit card. The main money media of payment in freelancing is done by credit cards. Credit cards have made both international and non-international payments extremely easy. You don't even need a checkbook anymore.
Are There Any Disadvantages?
Yes, there are obviously some disadvantages. You should not forget that when you are buying something with a credit card, you are buying it on loan. Every loan comes with interests. So, you have to pay more than the price of the merchandise you bought when you fill-up the credit loan. Also, surveys and statistics show that people tend to shop more or buy unnecessary things with credit cards more than when they have to pay in cash. This can be very fetal for Oniomaniacs. Oniomaniacs are persons who have an excessive desire for shopping.
Watch the movie Confession of A Shopaholic for better understanding. In the previous paragraph, when I said people cannot loot your money, I meant like normal thieves and robbers cannot take your money by force. If someone steals your credit card or you lose it, you can immediately inform the authority about it. They will block your card so that no one can use any money from it. But, a credit card is not completely safe for cyber thieves and hackers. Hackers hacking into your credit card and stealing money is not something new to us and it is too easy to fall victim to this kind of situation.
So, the credit card we use today had to go through many transitions and transformations to become convenient and very easy to use. Sure, the digital transaction process has made life a lot easier but the risk to fall victim to cyber theft is not minor at all. Most of the technology's inventions are for the well-being and prosperity of humankind. So, let's not abuse our free will and freedom to bring harm to ourselves and others.