Bill Maurer is Dean of the School of Social Sciences; Professor of Anthropology, Law and Criminology, Law and Society; and the Director of the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of
The Evolution of Money
This chapter provides an alternative account on the origins of money. It suggests two revisions to the long-held belief that money originated due to the inconveniences of barter. First, money is more properly understood as a recording device than as a valuable token used to equilibrate values. Money is a means of accounting. Second, there are different moneys, and money’s evolution is better seen as an additive process: new forms of money do not always replace the old, but instead, old and new intermingle and cohabit in complex monetary ecologies. The chapter also stresses the infrastructures necessary for money, using mobile money as a case in point.