About the Book
Huge volumes of payments flow every day through a labyrinthine network of networks, enabling vast amounts of value to move around, backwards and forwards – from you to me and him to her, company to company, bank to bank and country to country. The system serves a wide variety of economic flows, from my phone bill to your lunch; from corporate payrolls to drug deals, dividend payments to divorce settlements and much, much more besides.
On average people make at least one payment every day – but how often do we think about what has happened? Was it free to pay? Who saw us pay, and how much information did they get in the process? How did the money move? When did the beneficiary actually receive it? How much did they get? How many organisations, machines or people were involved along the way? How do they link together? Who pays for them? Who controls them? And what would happen if it all stopped working?
We believe this book is the first attempt to look at payments bottom up, top down, inside and out. It’ll be about the mechanics of payments, yes, but it will also be a book about the power, profundity and perversity of payments, and about the things that you have never even thought about: the modernity and antiquity of today’s systems; the singularity and universality of payments; the consequences – social, economic, geopolitical and otherwise – of our payment choices.
It tells of the rapid speed of change and the slow death of habit, of the immutable hold of legacy systems, national customs and corporate incumbency. And it delves into technology and sociology; liquidity, bits and bytes and cyber thefts; coins and crypto; cards, cash, cheques and all the myriad connections between them. Exploring payments from the layman’s perspective the book deciphers the geek-speak; disentangles the multitudinous layers and processes; and tries to resolve the central conundrum – how it is that money rarely ever moves but still keeps making the world go around.