8 Key Moments in the History of FinTech


FinTech is one of the most explosive industries on the planet, responsible for a third of 2021’s unicorns. So, let’s take a look at some of the moments that shaped the landscape.

1: Telefinance – 1918

Fresh out of the First World War, during which the electric telegraph was a vital instrument of communication the world over, the first system was developed to use the machines for financial transactions. 

Banks would use the telegraph machines, communicating through Morse code, to conduct transactions with far greater speed and efficiency than physical delivery systems. This was the first introduction of technology into the wider world of finance.

2: Going Paperless – 1968

In the UK, the Inter-Bank Computer Bureau (IBCB) was created to address the idea of automating cheque-clearing without the use of paper. They did so by creating a computer system they named Bankers Automated Clearing Services, later shortened to BACS. Still in use to this day, BACS has processed over 4 billion transactions in 2021 alone.

3: Off the Floor – 1971

Originally an acronym for the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, the Nasdaq was founded in 1971 as the first entirely electronic stock and securities exchange. This allowed traders to perform their transactions online, rather than having to stand around on a trading floor shouting at people.

Of course, the vast majority of securities trading is now performed online and electronically (and by far more people), but it’s worth noting that the Nasdaq was the first. Today, they’re the second largest exchange in terms of market cap, just behind the New York Stock Exchange.

4: Online, Not In Line – 1997

Nationwide Building Society introduced the very first online banking service while the internet was still in its infancy. It was soon followed by RBS a month later. Online banking allowed customers to manage their money without having to enter a physical branch, allowing far more convenience. Now, every bank worth their salt offers online services. There are even fully online banks like Monzo and Revolut that don’t have any brick and mortar branches at all!

5: A Pal that Pays – 1998

Founded in ‘98, Confinity wouldn’t officially change its name to PayPal until 2001. It was and remains one of the most dominant forces in online payments worldwide. Its influence was rocketed along by its presence on eBay, which is itself a significant point in FinTech’s history as the first household name in ecommerce.

6: First Contact…less – 2007

The first contactless payment card was brought out by Barclays with an initial spending limit of £10. Contactless payments, however, wouldn’t be rolled out and adopted in the wider world until much later.

7: A Bit More Coin – 2008

Invented by a mysterious individual (or group) operating under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin was the first totally digital, totally decentralised cryptocurrency. It first passed the US dollar in value in 2011, and now (as of this article) one bitcoin is worth just over $57,000.

8: Let’s Go Mobile – 2011

RBS was the first to launch a mobile banking app, but it wasn’t long before others followed suit. In 2014, Apple launched Apple Pay, which brought contactless technology onto people’s phones, boosting the tech’s popularity.


FinTech continues to grow at staggering speeds. With online & open banking taking over traditional methods and cryptocurrency continuing to catapult in value (whilst still being very difficult to get a grasp on), it’s an incredibly exciting time to be in the industry.

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