Spending, saving and borrowing

New technologies are transforming the way we spend, save and borrow money.

We cannot always predict the social and cultural consequences that might arise from these technological changes. In the last 200 years, there have been major changes in the ways we spend our money. In some countries today, fewer than half of all transactions are made in cash. In the twenty-first century, developments in digital technology will again transform the way we spend our money.

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	Credit card, issued from the United Arab Emirates, 2009
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    Credit card, issued from the United Arab Emirates, 2009, Courtesy of HSBC Holdings plc 


    The idea of borrowing money is as old as money itself. Although sometimes criticised, borrowing has in many countries become a normal part of the way people manage their money. There has been a huge rise in consumer credit in the modern world, and many people use borrowed money alongside cash as a way to make payments. However, the ethics of borrowing and lending money are still questioned. Some people prefer not to borrow, or not to pay interest if they do.

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    Money box in the shape of a television. Burma (Myanmar), 20th century AD 

    Keeping it safe…

    People save money, either in their homes or in banks, in order to buy things without incurring debt. Many consider saving a safer way to build up their money than investments. Development organisations and specialist banks are increasingly offering new ways for these people to save up money to develop businesses or pay for significant events or items.

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    Mobile phone handset. Made in China for use in Haiti, 2012  

    Mobile money…

    The ways people use their money is changing. From moving money around online, to using mobile phones to make payments, new digital technologies are being developed all over the world. Some of these can have unexpected social consequences. Others can transform lives by opening up access to finance for people who were previously outside the banking system.

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    Mondex cashless payment system 

    Ahead of its time...?

    Not all advances in digital payment are successful. The Mondex system, first developed by National Westminster Bank, was an attempt to create a cashless electronic cash system. Trials began in 1995 in Swindon and despite a great deal of media coverage, ended without a nationwide launch.