The Pay Off: How Changing the Way We Pay Changes Everything (Paperback)
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How we pay is so fundamental that it underpins everything—from trade to taxation, stocks and savings, to salaries, pensions, and pocket money.
Rich or poor, criminal, communist, or capitalist, we all rely on the same payments system, day in, day out. It sits between us and not just economic meltdown, but a total breakdown in law and order. Why then do we know so little about how it really works?
As you read this, technology is dismantling payment barriers and governments are erecting them; cash is on the way out, and crypto and BigTech are fighting their way in. Europeans are heavily regulated, Americans oddly backward, and the Chinese are hoping to lead the way forward.
Challenging our understanding about where financial power really lies, The Pay Off shows us that the most important thing about money is the way we move it. Leibbrandt and De Terán shine a light on the hidden workings of the humble payment—and reveal both how our payment habits are determined by history as well as where we go from here.
From national customs to warring nation states, geopolitics will shape the future of payments every bit as much as technology.
About the Author
Natasha de Terán is a former journalist, specialising in financial regulation and market structures. She has written for publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Times, Financial Times, Risk, Week, and Money Week. She was the head of corporate affairs at SWIFT from 2012 to 2019.
A self-confessed payments nerd, Gottfried Leibbrandt is the former CEO of SWIFT, the global network for interbank transactions. Prior to joining SWIFT, Liebbrandt worked for McKinsey & Company. He holds degrees from Vrije Universteit Amsterdam, Maastricht University, and Stanford Business School.
”Admirably lucid” —Financial Times
"Excellent reading" —Professor Alistair Milne, author, The Fall of the House of Credit
"Payments are the most important things most people have probably never even thought about. Banks, tech companies, Central Banks, crypto firms and crooks all know that if you control payments, you may also control critical data and ultimately the world. The Pay Offcleverly dissects the workings and future of this geopolitical and technological war. A must read for anyone in business." —Bob Wigley, Chair, UK Finance
"A long overdue, highly readable and authoritative account of the uses and occasional abuses of the systems on which we all rely, and how they are still rapidly changing, that both specialists and the general reader will find informative and entertaining." —Mark Yallop, Chair, FICC Markets Standards Board, Former External Member, Prudential Regulatory Committee at the Bank of England, Former External Member, Financial Market Infrastructure Board at the Bank of England
"Whenever you buy or sell something, you use a payments system but, do you ever wonder how that system works? It's like plumbing or electricity maybe, but it is actually far more complex as it is changing fast thanks to technology. You used to pay with cash, then with a click, now with a swipe or with a touch. What's next? How does all of this work? The Pay Off provides a wonderful deep-dive into the subject [...]. In this book, you find so many useful insights about the past, present and future of payments that anyone who is vaguely interested in the politics, economics and world of finance should pick it up and read it. NOW!" —Chris Skinner, author, Digital Bank
“An excellent and important book. Payments are transforming our society and our lives, and yet few people understand what’s driving the change, or what the consequences could be, for good or ill. Hugely engaging and accessible, The Pay Off demystifies this critical subject for the layperson and policy makers alike” —Natalie Ceeney CBE, Chair, Access to Cash review
“The world of payments is complex and confusing, but hugely important. The authors have produced a comprehensive, authoritative and even, at times, amusing, guide. I have read nothing better on a subject which increasingly preoccupies both commercial and central banks.” —Howard Davies, Chairman of the NatWest group, and former chairman of the FSA
“The Pay Offsounds like a thriller and it reads like one. The authors succeed in demonstrating ‘networks are an inexhaustibly interesting subject’ with wit and panache. The book was written with a twinkle in the eye and brought a twinkle to mine. Accessible and erudite, entertaining and enriching, The Pay Off delivers.” —Tim Frost, former director of the Bank of England and chair of Cairn Capital