I’m currently part way through David Graeber’s book ‘Debt: The First 5,000 Years‘ and stumbled upon an interesting Hong Kong-related titbit.
Relating to IOUs between people, Graeber regales a story told to him.
The anthropologist Keith Hart once told me a story about his brother, who in the ’50s was a British soldier stationed in Hong Kong. Soldiers used to pay their bar tabs by writing cheques on accounts back in England. Local merchants would often simply endorse them over to each other and pass them around as currency: once, he saw one of his own cheques, written six months before, on the counter of a local vendor covered with about forty different tiny inscriptions in Chinese.
Imagine the same thing happening today!