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Croesus, the King of Lydia from 560-547 BC, is widely credited1 with being the first to create coins as money.
The first coins, made of an alloy of gold and silver called Electrum, made things much easier in terms of measurement, trade and transport. But the value of the coins was not due to the convenience problems they solved, nor in their value as precious metals.
The value was held in the trusted authority that guaranteed the value behind them. Coins were stamped with simulacra of heads of rulers or powerful beasts… Counterfeiting them was prohibited, and punishable by torture and death.
As such, strong trust was transferred, like an unspoken contract, from person to person.
Trust allowed local coins to become national money, then transnational currency, eventually gaining acceptance across the globe. First trust was represented in gold and silver, then in the British pound and the U.S. dollar.
The shared belief in money spanned warring religions, cultures, languages and races.
The idea of coinage spread from Lydia to the Greeks, Romans, Europeans and gradually emerged as a central driver of global economic development.
The new “dawn of money” perhaps lies in Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple and other Blockchain based currencies. But if human trust is a constitutive element of crypto-money, we are not there yet.
While trusted 3rd parties may be “on the outs” in the world of Blockchain, a “Court of Bitcoin” or something to that effect, will have to stand behind the cryptocurrency that “wins”.
Beyond the most outer layer of amber preserving the intact mosquito, humans are not purely economic. They hope that they have another human to talk to if technology fails.