Design icon: English banknotes

Paper money as we know it first appeared in 7th century China - hundreds of years before anywhere else - but it was in Europe that this type of currency really started to move forward.

The precursor of paper money in the UK was the running cash note, which gained popularity in the 17th century. You took your gold coins to a local goldsmith for storage and got a receipt that could be redeemed for your money. Gradually, rather than a promise to pay you the amount stated, running cash notes began to state "or bearer", making it possible for you to exchange your cash note for goods, with the bearer confident that a bank would swap it for real money.

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