This essay aims to illustrate the rise of the main currency areas of the world (in particular the sterling area) and the reasons for the rise of a specific currency area in continental Western Europe (later transformed in the actual European Monetary Union) after WW II. The starting point of this process was the 1931 financial crises and the abandonment of gold standard by Great Britain. As a consequence of that crises the international payment system fragmented, and various currency areas appeared. Countries of continental Western Europe remained excluded by the main currency areas of that time and had to face the problems caused by isolation by means of specific arrangements as bilateral clearing agreements. At the end of WW II the payment and currency gap problems for continental Western Europe reappeared. It was only with the rise of the European Payment Union (EUP) and the following European Monetary Agreement that the payment problems disappeared thanks to the creation of a multilateral clearing agreement (the EUP) and co-operation in monetary field. The solution of historical payments problems and the enlargement of intra-european trade is considered to be the first real step for the creation of the European currency area and the following monetary union.