Where Did Paper Cash Come From? It Was Invented in Chengdu, China in 1018 AD.

Paper cash appears to be disappearing in favor of digital cash. Many places only take credit cards now. But where did paper cash come from?

It originated in the same place as paper…in China. While paper started being made sometime between the 2nd Century BC and 3rd Century AD in China, paper money came later.

It took at least another 800 years before someone got the idea to create a promise on paper to pay someone else back. We call those promissory notes! The US dollars in your wallet are also paper promises! 

This paper cash came from the capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan (more familiar to American fans of Chinese food as the Romanized name “Szechuan”).

The capital is the ancient city of Chengdu. It’s a place with a name and location that hasn’t changed for millennia. Chengdu may have been around for at least 3,800 years!

The merchants of Chengdu found carrying large piles of coins cumbersome and dangerous. Instead of lugging 1,000 coins why not carry a single piece of paper promising 1,000 coins?

Five years later the government stepped in to reduce the chaos caused by numerous paper currencies from several merchants. So in 1023 AD we got our first government-issued paper money.

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