Floriade.... and its link to payment history

Today the Dutch Floriade 2012 has opened its doors in Venlo. And that reminded me of the Floriade Amsterdam, which was held in 1972. Few people will know that the Floriade of 1972 has a link to the Dutch payment history. Because it almost became the place were the first electronic payments at the point of sale could have been trialled. So what happened in those days....?

In the early 1970s there were some discussions about a possible merger of the Amsterdam Municipal Giro (Gemeentegiro Amsterdam, known as GGA) with the Dutch national Giro (Postcheque- and Girodienst). While the national regulators wished the GGA to become part of the National Postal Giro, the City of Amsterdam was very much opposed to that idea, since the GGA generated a nice revenue. And its director Stofkoper, did everything he could to ensure that the GGA could prolong its life as an independent organisation. And for that, he chose the path of innovation into modern electronic payments and banking.

Stofkoper invested heavily in study trips to the USA and made sure that the GGA was the first to test and adopt new technology. And for the Floriade of 1972, his true goal was to set up an electronic payment system. So he discussed this idea seperately with the technical people of Bijenkorf and Albert Heijn. He tried to convince them to quickly join in this pilot, suggesting that another interested party would also be willing to step in this pilot and demonstrate an innovative approach.

Unfortunetely for the GGA however, the technical staff of Bijenkorf and Albert Heijn were in contact with each other and found out that they were both being courted. And as the idea of setting up a closed-circuit payment system was still too fresh and new to them, they choose not to participate. So the GGA did not have the  from then on the GGA chose to focus on alternative uses of the new technology. And in 1976 it became the first to provide all its customers with the possibility to withdraw money from an Automated Teller Machine, using a 'betaalkaart'.

Now, for those interested in film and photo's of the early days; there is a five-part film around on Youtube that provides nostalgic footage of the Floriade 1972.

And for those that are more into the old-school black and white pictures, I would suggest to look at these foto's of the Amsterdamse Beeldbank: