The pound is the name given to the official currency (or unit of currency) used by several nations across the world. The British pound (commonly referred to as the pound sterling) is perhaps the best known, and certainly the most widely traded. Among the other countries which also still use the term are Egypt, Lebanon and Sudan.
The precise origin of the term “pound sterling” is a matter of some historical controversy. Some date the use of the term in the UK to around Saxon times, but the Normans certainly had an influence too, when they introduced their silver coins in the 12th Century (the word “sterling” being derived from an Old French term). The word “pound” on the other hand, is Roman in origin, derived from the Latin “libra pondo”, which means “weighed by scales”. This was the main accounting unit used by the Roman Empire. Other nations also used this derivation to name their currency, such as Italy (lire) and Portugal (Libre). This origin also explains why the British use the symbol “lb” to signify a pound in weight, being a shortening of the Latin word “libre”.
The good old pound has survived as the UK’s official currency ever since, although it did undergo a major overhaul in the 1970s with the conversion of the units of currency from the old pound, shilling and pence to the modern system used today. Decimalisation occurred on February 15th 1971, when the old penny (d), of which there were 240 to the pound, was replaced by the new penny (p), with 100 in the pound. Old historically traditional terms and coins such as the sixpence (6d became 2½ p) and the shilling (12d became 5p) were lost forever.
The pound itself was also under severe threat as recently as ten years ago. As members of the European Union, the prospect of the UK joining the Euro loomed large for many years around the turn of the century, prompting the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to introduce his “five economic tests” to assess Britain’s readiness to join the new united currency. It was not until 2007 that monetary union with the Euro was finally ruled out for the foreseeable future, and the prospect today seems very remote indeed.
The pound sterling continues to be one of the most popularly traded currencies across the world. The precise “league table” depends very much on how it is measured (e.g. currency trading markets, use for international business trade, official currency reserves…) but it seems safe to assume that the top three world currencies are the American dollar ($), the Euro (€) and the British pound (£). This situation is always fluid however, and the Chinese Yuan is rising in popularity with the rapid development of the Chinese economy in recent years. By some measures, the Yuan has already overtaken the Japanese Yen to become the fourth most traded currency, so the pound’s popularity is under pressure.
Most payments made to online bingo sites in the United Kingdom are of course made using the pound sterling, but virtually all online bingo sites will accept other currencies. This makes the game accessible to foreign nationals residing in the UK who wish to use their domestic bank accounts to fund their play.