In 1946, banker John Biggins introduced the first bank card, Charg-It, across his neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. When a consumer charged a purchase at a local merchant, the charge would be forwarded to Biggins’ bank, which would reimburse the merchants and collect payment from the consumer.

This development was noteworthy because it birthed the concept of card payment networks. Ensuring consumers could use card payments while in motion emerged as a key driver of the expansion of such networks across communities, and eventually borders. Now this same tactic is being replicated as mobile wallets go global. And, as is often the case, Chinese digital consumers are playing a starring role.

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