History of ChargaCard
In 2016, the co-founder of Investars, (a company dedicated to providing transparency on Wall Street which revolutionized the financial research industry), was reading Edward Bellamy’s book first published in 1888, titled: “Looking Backward: 2000–1887” a utopian science fiction novel which inspired several utopian communities. Bellamy’s novel tells the story of a hero figure named Julian West, a young American who, towards the end of the 19th century, falls into a deep, hypnosis-induced sleep and wakes up one hundred and thirteen years later. He finds himself in the same location in Boston, Massachusetts, but in a totally changed world: It is the year 2000 and, while he was sleeping, the United States has been transformed into a socialist utopia.
Bellamy predicts both lectures and music being available in the home through cable “telephone”. He also introduces a concept of “credit” cards, similar to modern debit cards, which didn’t appear until much later.
It was not until the late nineteenth century that “Charge Coins” first appeared allowing businesses such as department stores to offer credit to customers. Due to theft and security issues, the “Charge Coins” were replaced with “Charga-Plates”, a rectangular metal card embossed with the customer’s name, city and state. Developed in 1928, it was an early predecessor of the credit card and was used in the U.S. from the 1930s until the late 1950s.
In 1958, third-party financial institutions decided to take over the market by establishing a revolving credit financial system in which a card issued by a third-party bank would replace the “Charga-Plates” that merchants were offering customers. That was the birth of the modern credit card we know today. Finally, 58 years later, in the world of Julian West, in 2016, the old “Charga-Plates” combined with “cable telephone” as Bellamy predicted, are now back, as ChargaCards.