Long before anyone dreamed of using a smartphone to make a payment, people were exchanging shells for fresh fish or bushels of wheat. Over the centuries, the payments process has evolved to include currency, letters of credit, ACH, cards, checks and more.
This fascinating history is covered in a new book published by Nacha, “The Story of Payments – How the Industrialization of Trust Created the Modern Payments System.”
“Technology and information are making payments smarter and faster,” said Stephanie Prebish, AAP, CTP, Senior Director & Group Manager, Association Services at Nacha. “Understanding how payments evolved can provide perspective and teach us to improve payments into the future.”
Written by industry veterans Richard Oliver and George Warfel Jr., “The Story of Payments” examines the crucial role that innovation has long played in driving change for the payments industry, and the principles underlying how payments continue to be innovated to meet society’s needs.
But it’s more than just history. Among the many other concepts examined, “The Story of Payments” looks at how trust continues to be crucial for a payment method to win acceptance – whether it’s the trust that a government will back its currency, or the distrust cards have suffered because of fraud.
“I think trust has been essential to the payments system,” said Warfel, adding that when a new form of payment lacks trust, that “makes it hard to get adopted.”
“The Story of Payments” has been a labor of love for the authors. Oliver is the retired Executive Vice President at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and Warfel is currently General Manager, FinTech and Payments Strategy at Haddon Hill Group, and has been a payments leader at SRI International, IBM and PwC.
“Writing a book about payments was always in the back of my mind as a payments professional,” said Oliver. When Warfel called one day and suggested it, “that tipped me from ‘nice idea’ to ‘why not?’”
“The Story of Payments” is available for purchase through the Nacha Store. Additionally, the authors recently appeared on the debut edition of “Payments SmartCast,” Nacha’s new podcast, which is now available for download on Nacha’s website.
Nacha is a nonprofit organization that convenes hundreds of diverse organizations to enhance and enable ACH payments and financial data exchange within the U.S. and across geographies. Through the development of rules, standards, governance, education, advocacy, and in support of innovation, Nacha’s efforts benefit all stakeholders. Nacha is the steward of the ACH Network, a payment system that universally connects all U.S. bank accounts and facilitates the movement of money and information. In 2019, 24.7 billion payments and nearly $56 trillion in value moved across the ACH Network. Nacha also leads groups focused on API standardization and B2B payment enablement. Visit nacha.org for more information, and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.