The Fintech History Book Vol. 2 – The Middle Bit

In the beginning God created heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be fintech’; and there was fintech.1000x600_content_portal_imagery

And so it goes. Immortal words that every schoolgirl and schoolboy grows up hearing.

It is clear, for those that have studied the ancient scriptures, that before there was fintech there was nothing.


Not wanting to concern itself with nothing, this history volume focuses on the period between the ‘nothing’ and now.

In Vol. 1, we covered the period when the ‘nothing’ turned into ‘something’. The dawn of fintech, as it were. From the invention of the pantelegraph up until the introduction of the first ATM, we trundled through just over a hundred years of early fintech innovation. In this volume, we’ll cover what some historians have come to call ‘the middle bit’.

The tale of “the middle bit” begins in the 1970s – otherwise known as the decade of the space hopper. One of the first formative decades in fintech, the 1970s saw two major advancements hit the fintech timeline.

In 1971, the NASDAQ was established. The establishment of the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations transformed fintech. The acronym that followed is said to have saved the NASDAQ letterhead typesetters millions. The NASDAQ was the world’s first electronic stock market, modernising the initial public offering and signalling the onset of all-electronic trading.

A couple of years later we find ourselves in 1973. While the rest of the western world was embroiled in the oil crisis, a company from Belgium was revolutionising the cross-border payment scene. In 1973, Carl Reuterskiöld founded The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

Or SWIFT, for those of us not wanting to waste what could amount to years of our lives pronouncing the extra 20 syllables. Hundreds of worldwide banks signed up, and this was the first step to adopting common standards for financial transactions.

Enter the 1980s, and roll in Nintendo, E.T. and the internet. The latter is the most important to fintech. To kick off, in 1982 the first online brokerage, E-Trade is founded. One year later, and online banking is introduced in Britain. Nottingham Building Society launched online banking for its customers. Nope, I hadn’t either.

They’ll be more on the internet and fintech later. They go together like two peas in a techno-innovative pod.

Next up is the 90s - the age of the Gameboy, dial-up internet and the coining of the term fintech. Coinciding with the creation of the Financial Services Technology Consortium, the portmanteau fintech has since saved humanity an innumerable amount of time. Go on, give it a go. ‘Fin-tech’. Rolls of the tongue. Not like that heavy legged archaism, ‘financial technology.’

In 1997 the first mobile payment was made. A Fin bought a can of coke from a vending machine. They really put the ‘fin’ into fintech, the Fins.

And with that we hit the millennium. Almost a century and a half after our journey from nothing began and the past is but a distant country. From the year 2000 onwards we reach a period some historians have labelled, ‘The Golden Age of Fintech’. Limber up for Fintech 2000, the third and final fintech history book.


Register for FinTech Connect on 3–4 December at ExCeL, London.

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