t the end of Chancery Lane in London, on Fleet Street, there is a stone arch leading to a quiet courtyard where I spent many lunch breaks marvelling at the change of atmosphere between this place and the busy street outside. Tucked into the courtyard is the Temple Church, featured in Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’, built by the poor Templars as a place of worship. That’s right, ‘poor Templars’. It might sound strange but this is how that order of knights began on their mission to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. They became rich and powerful by growing into one of the first bankers of the modern world and Temple Church became the first bank in London. The journey to Jerusalem was long and dangerous, with robbers behind every corner, so instead of carrying funds with them, pilgrims deposited their money at Temple Church and withdrew it upon arrival at their destination. This service wasn’t free…
There are many more stories of how financial services developed – the Templars were by no means the first. There are records of temples being used as safe refuges for wealth as far back as 18 BC in Babylon, where you could borrow money from priests. Then, in 4th century BC, Greece became the global leader in financial transactions: deposits, loans, currency exchange, etc. Fast forward to the 21st century and we no longer need any physical objects to weigh us down, regardless of how much money we’ve got. We barely see our money. We have plastic cards which are ‘soon’ to become obsolete too. In the 21st century, we have terms like ‘bitcoin’ or ‘tokens’ and technology to satiate all our financial needs.
This month, you can see just how far we have moved on from the 12th century Templars’ services by diving into our Business section, where Cryptocurrencies, Fintech, Insurtech, Blockchain, ICO, etc., are explained ahead of the conference to be hosted by Albert Isola where experts in the field will be defining future regulation for digital money.
We have a few interesting suggestions for tourism in Gib, all of which I would happily take part in. We talk to Mari Montegriffo, the first local female mayor, elected in 1988, and learn about her various skills, including singing and playing squash very well.
In Scene, you can read all about this year’s World Music Festival showcasing artists from Mali and Ethiopia, bringing us closer to African beats. Also, Gibraltar’s first ever Comic Convention is bringing all comic enthusiasts together as of May the 4th.
Rugby fans can read about our recent victory over Finland and photography junkies can add Burma to their destination list. Those with a taste for fine wines will find out what Tasmania has to offer, whilst gardening lovers can check out the Chelsea Flower Show – it is said to be the Mecca for all flora enthusiasts.
Today, even if you’re not on the way to your Holy Land, or are not particularly worried about carrying a stash of gold on you, would you rather have banknotes stuffed into your wallet or just a password stored in your head allowing you access to virtual money?