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The Secret Genius of Modern Life episode 1

The Secret Genius of Modern Life episode 1

The Secret Genius of Modern Life episode 1: Hannah Fry takes a look at the bank card. This humble piece of plastic is often taken for granted, but it’s the digital key to accessing cash and is packed full of extraordinary technological innovations – including some with surprising and sinister origins.



 

 

 

Hannah is granted the first ever TV access to Visa’s European bank card data centre, discovers why we have Russian spies to thank for contactless payments, and finds out how the CIA and a 1950s housewife helped kick-start the bank card revolution.

Hannah Fry is a British mathematician, author, and radio and television presenter. She is Professor in the Mathematics of Cities at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. She studies the patterns of human behaviour, such as interpersonal relationships and dating, and how mathematics can apply to them. Fry delivered the 2019 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.

 

The Secret Genius of Modern Life episode 1

 

A bank card is typically a plastic card issued by a bank to its clients that performs one or more of a number of services that relate to giving the client access to bank account.

Physically, a bank card will usually have the client’s name, the issuer’s name, and a unique card number printed on it. It will have a magnetic strip on the back enabling various machines to read and access information. Depending on the issuing bank and the preferences of the client, this may allow the card to be used as an ATM card, enabling transactions at automated teller machines; as debit card, linked to the client’s bank account and able to be used for making purchases at the point of sale.

The first bank cards were ATM cards issued by Barclays in London, in 1967, and by Chemical Bank in Long Island, New York, in 1969. In 1972, Lloyds Bank issued the first bank card to feature a personal identification number (PIN) for security along with the information-encoding magnetic strip. Historically, bank cards have also served the purpose of a cheque guarantee card, a now almost defunct system to guarantee cheques at points of sale.

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The Secret Genius of Modern Life episode 1
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The Secret Genius of Modern Life episode 1
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The Secret Genius of Modern Life episode 1: Hannah Fry takes a look at the bank card, this humble piece of plastic

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