Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you all to our virtual conference on the “Future of Payments in Europe”. More and more, the topic has moved towards the top of the agenda of policymakers, central bankers and private market participants alike. And seeing all the esteemed speakers and participants, I am sure this conference will make a valuable contribution to this debate.
So what does the future hold in store for us? Along with utopian or dystopian visions, science fiction sometimes offers fascinating glimpses of what everyday life in the future might look like. One of the most popular American books in the 19th century was Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward”. In this story, the protagonist falls asleep one night in 1887 and miraculously wakes up in the year 2000. He finds himself in a “workers’ paradise” where people can retire at the age of 45 and the government controls the means of production. This utopia is technologically advanced and affluent, featuring electronic entertainment, large shopping centres with a fast delivery system, and “credit cards”.
Yes, you heard right: money no longer exists in Bellamy’s vision of the year 2000. Instead, those cards grant people a just share of the goods produced in this (socialist) economy. Ironically, Bellamy may well have been the first to use the term “credit card”.