In the beginning, when bartering was the norm, people would directly trade their items for other items. However, as time went by, traders across different civilisations began using items such as cowrie shells, miniature hoes, ingots made of gold, silver, copper and tin, and others to ease the process of buying and selling.

When metal started becoming an exchange medium, and weights and measures were standardised, it became easier to assign and quantify the value of different goods. It was a matter of time before the old kingdoms and empires began to see the value of putting marks on lumps of metal to create coinage. Coinage legitimises and makes a coin hard to forge, as the issuers of the coins will guarantee its value.