What are means of payment and how do they work? Where does our money go when we buy a product or service? What changes have been ushered in by the digital revolution? In order to answer these questions, the authors take into account institutional and regulatory factors, without neglecting the origins and the evolution of currency over time, the advent of central banks, the Single Euro Payments Area, and the introduction of electronic payment methods. Particular emphasis is placed on recent innovations: instant payments, internet and smartphone payments, the spread of Bitcoin and other crypto-activities, prospective digital currencies offered by central banks – phenomena about which little is known but that will be part of our not-too-distant future.
Riccardo De Bonis is Deputy Head of the Statistical Analysis Directorate at the Bank of Italy.
Maria Iride Vangelisti works in the Market and Payment System Oversight Directorate at the Bank of Italy.