Categories: Industry Insights

Knowledge of Payments Promotes Growth in Health and Wellness Organizations: History of Payments

Published On: Oct 16, 2020

To know where we’re going, it’s useful to look back at where we’ve been. Reliable, optimized payments solutions is essential to any YMCA, JCC, or community center. Before we dive into the Xs and Os of increasing your bottom line, let’s take a look at the history of payments and relevant terms.

The payments world is confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Its roots are simpler than you may think, and will make payments easier to understand. Learn here how three key innovations have led to the payments world of today. And finally, discover how you can increase your bottom line, reduce terminations, and take back your valuable time with full-service billing.

The Overdraft: In 1727 The Royal Bank of Scotland allowed a merchant, William Hog, to withdraw £1,000 extra pounds than were in his account. This, in turn, laid the foundation for modern legal definitions of loans, interest, and credit. These are all cornerstones of our economy, and credit is a key factor in payments. Imagine if it was only possible to collect payments after your members demonstrated to their bank, to your bank, and all third-party processors that they have enough money in their account! In this dystopian reality, monthly recurring payments would not exist. Just one payment would take far too much time to process without the concept of credit laid in 1727.

The EFT: The first Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) was sent by Western Union in 1871, establishing their position as a trusted money transfer entity. The EFT effectively made it possible for someone to be in two places at once. Until this point, being physically present was a requirement to purchase a good or service. This innovation continued to evolve into funds transfer through telegraph in the early 20th century, to the first “online” purchase by Mrs. Jane Snowball in 1984, and finally to integrated online payments. Without the concept of EFTs, you would need to have members physically present to process any payment!

The Credit Card: Credit cards basically began as science fiction. The utopian novel Looking Backwards, by Edward Bellamy published in 1887 mentions the idea of credit cards as a method of payments 11 times. This idea stuck. What began as paper cards and slowly evolved to the first plastic credit card released by American Express in 1959 has become a staple of modern payments systems. In addition to being physically easier to handle than money and checks, each credit card transaction is the beginning of an EFT and also relies on the concept of credit that began with Mr. Hog’s overdraft in 1727! Furthermore, the credit card developed a robust concept of encrypted data and began an eternally unfolding arm’s race of payments security.

This compelling history can offer more than an entertaining read. Knowing and understanding the roots of modern payments helps create proactive solutions that resolves problems before they arise. As central pillars of payments culture, these three innovations are also central to our full-service billing offering through Gains. Learn how you can take advantage of this history and full-service billing to increase your bottom line, reduce terminations, and take back your valuable time.

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