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if you had to explain to an alien what happens when you go to a store and exchange a piece of paper for a candy bar

No you wouldn't. It's screamingly obvious that barter is an inefficient system since the chance that your desires exactly coincide with my output are low. The notion of using an abstraction as a medium of exchange is ancient; the advent of paper money, credit and so on is simply the consequence of institutional awareness eclipsing physical instantiation, ie accepting the idea of a bank as a persistent and reliable entity as opposed to shaving gold coins and hoping the next recipient doesn't notice.

I've read a lot about money and I don't think anyone really understands it. I certainly don't. Negative interest rates shocked a lot of people. People even argue about whether cutting interest rates makes money worth more or less. If it's all screamingly obvious, write a good explanation and win the Nobel Prize...

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