From bookkeeping to blockchain, celebrating National Inventors’ Day, financial services style

by Badgley Phelps | Feb 11, 2019

In honor of National Inventors’ Day on February 11—appropriately, Thomas Edison’s birthday—we’ve pulled together a few of our favorite inventions and innovations in financial services.

Hooray for double-entry bookkeeping

Fundamental to accounting as we know it today, double-entry bookkeeping requires each entry to an account to have an opposite, corresponding entry to a different account. According to Wikipedia, we have Italy to thank for the field: In 1458, Italian Luca Pacioli was the first person to publish a work on double-entry bookkeeping—which introduced the ideas of three major accounting tools: the memorandum, journal and ledger.

Three cheers for the credit card

If you had a Diners’ Club card in the 1950s, you were a trendsetter: It was the first universal credit card, allowing people to pay for goods and services without cash. According to CreditGuard.org, the first local credit card was invented a few years earlier, in 1946, by a banker named John Biggins. It was originally called the “Charge-It” card and was issued by Flatbush National Bank in Brooklyn, New York.

Yippee for the internet

When the internet became widespread in the 1990s, it made many exciting changes possible for financial services. It enabled financial service professionals to connect with customers in a newer, faster more economical way. Now, there’s an app for almost everything money related. Some of our favorites are budget tracking apps like Mint and Albert; receipt and bill tracking apps like Pocketguard and Shoeboxed; easy payment apps such as Venmo or Cover; and robust solutions like Quicken.

Huzzah for blockchain

Blockchain is an invention whose impact isn’t fully realized: It will continue to change the face of financial services in the future. Essentially the internet of value, blockchain allows data and transactions to be broadcast, completed and recorded on a peer network. The blocks are bundles of data, transactions or records (like pages in a book) and the chain is the string of blocks linked together (the book itself). It’s the double-entry bookkeeping system of the future that we’ll be paying close attention to in the coming years.

Whoopee for artificial intelligence (AI)

Like blockchain, the impact of AI on financial services remains to be seen. That said, AI is already at work in the areas of fraud detection, risk management and regulatory compliance. It can also help advisers keep tabs on the investment landscape.



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