chapter  1
15 Pages

What is money? Introduction

ByJohn Smithin

From a commonsense point of view, economic activity in the capitalist or market economy is all about money: making money, earning money, spending money, saving money, and so forth. It is true that recent changes in computer technology have led to discussions of a ‘cashless society’ or ‘virtual money’. However, it is fairly obvious (except perhaps to writers of ‘op-ed’ articles in the popular and financial press) that this is a change of form rather than substance. All that is implied by a cashless society is that it is possible to envisage a payments technology which makes no use of bits of paper and small metal discs. However, the cashless society is hardly ‘moneyless’, far from it. The purpose of ebusiness or e-commerce is also to ‘make money’, exactly as before. Indeed, under capitalism new technology would not be introduced at all if it could not be made ‘to pay’ in the traditional sense.