From ATMs to online banking to emergence of cryptocurrency, fintech has come a long way over the span of the last century. Here’s a quick overview of some of the major milestones.
1918: The birth of fintech as the US Federal Reserve debuts electronic funds transfers
The birth of fintech began roughly a hundred years ago, when the US Federal Reserve Banks rolled out Fedwire– the very first electronic funds transfer system. Fedwire relied on Morse code and connected all 12 Reserve Banks, the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S. Treasury.
1934: Frederick Fuller creates the IBM 801 Bank Proof machine
In 1927, IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson Sr. opted to invest in the future of finance at the time: checks. He convinced retired engineer Frederick Fuller to join IBM to help make a new kind of check clearing machine. The IBM Bank Proof machine automated many of the routine check clearing tasks that were being done manually at the time. Despite the fact that the device debuted in the middle of the Great Depression, the turned out to be not only a huge success for IBM but also a major fintech milestone.
1967: Barclays installs the world’s first ATM
According to inventor John Shepherd-Barron, the idea to create an automated teller machine occurred to him while he was taking a bath. After pitching the concept to Barclays, they immediately hired him to get to work on a prototype. Unlike today’s ATMs, Shepherd-Barron’s machine did not charge its users any fees.
1971: NASDAQ invents electronic trading
The NASDAQ exchange was set up by the regulatory agency that is now known as FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). The agency saw the need for a faster, more transparent way to trade– so it created the world’s first electronic trading platform. Its name: the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, or Nasdaq for short.
1982: William Porter founds TradePlus (E*TRADE)
The debut of TradePlus marked a key turning point in the history of the fintech industry. The platform allowed individual traders to access market information and conduct trades on their own– without relying on the help of a broker. In 1991, Porter used the money he made with TradePlus to found E*TRADE.
1993: Citicorp forms FSTC (Financial Services Technology Consortium)
By 1993, leaders from Citicorp and other banks were unsatisfied with the way that financial institutions were neglecting to adopt internet-based improvements to their systems. In fact, the FSTC’s Poisson paper states that “virtually no progress” had been made. The FSTC took steps to change that by developing standards designed to solve the technical issues that were preventing progress at the time.
1995: Wells Fargo begins offering online checking account access
In addition to being the first bank to let their customers access their checking accounts via the internet in 1995, the multinational financial services company also pioneered a new credit card payments system in the same year.
“When we first became introduced to this mysterious internet system, our initial training class consisted of watching a PBS television show, What Is the Internet?” – Charles Combs, Technology Manager at Wells Fargo Virtual Channels
Source: Wells Fargo
1999: Fintech starts its mainstream rise with the PayPal era begins
PayPal’s early history dates back to 1998, when it was a software security firm called Confinity. Co-founders Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek, and Ken Howery shifted focus and launched PayPal the following year. By early 2000, PayPal had amassed one million users. In the first half of that year, it gained five million more.
2009: The mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto unveils Bitcoin
Though several digital cash technologies existed prior to 2009, it was Bitcoin that took the world by storm. In the early years, only a small group of hobbyists took interest when the anonymous developer (or group of developers) known as Satoshi Nakamoto posted the Bitcoin white paper to Sourceforge. Since then, an entire industry has sprung up around blockchain-based technologies.
2011: A fintech world with Google releasing Google Wallet
With the introduction of Google Wallet, Google made it easier than ever before to pay for goods and services with a mobile device. Since 2011, the payment app has gone through a number of confusing name changes and rebrands. In 2018, Google wisely decided to fold all of its payment apps into one service called Google Pay.
2017: Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase enters the $1 billion club
Skyrocketing Bitcoin prices helped US-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase earn a $1.6 billion valuation in 2017. By May of 2018, venture capital investors had increased the estimate to $8 billion, putting the exchange in the same league as Lyft, Pinterest and other “unicorn” companies.
2018: Global fintech investments surpass $57 billion
Global fintech investments surged past expectations in the early part of 2018. Companies made just $38 billion in fintech investments in all of 2017. Two huge deals contributed to the increase: Ant Financial’s headline-grabbing $14 fund raising effort and Vantiv’s acquisition of WorldPay for $12.9 billion.
Read more about the evolution of fintech at Carsurance.
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Disclaimer: All the information provided above is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional investment, legal, or tax advice. You should conduct your own research or consult with a professional financial advisor when investing.