The money form is a "universal equivalent" which can in principle exchange for any product offered for sale.
Distinguishing characteristics of the money form include:
- It is a means of exchange, facilitating the circulation of commodities.
- It provides a standard measure of value; a means of accounting for value; and it is the measuring unit of prices.
- It is a universally accepted means of payment for goods & services rendered, creating the social relation of debt.
- It is a means to store value owned, accumulate value, or form hoards of wealth.
- Usually this is associated with the emergence of a state authority issuing legal currency. At that point the value-form (of money) appears to have acquired a fully independent, separate existence.
What appears to happen is not that a particular commodity becomes money because all other commodities universally express their values in it, but, on the contrary, that all other commodities universally express their values in a particular commodity because it is money. The movement through which this process has been mediated vanishes in its own result, leaving no trace behind. Without any initiative on their part, the commodities find their own value-configuration ready to hand, in the form of a physical commodity existing outside but also alongside them. This physical object, gold or silver in its crude state, becomes, immediately on its emergence from the bowels of the earth, the direct incarnation of all human labour. Hence the magic of money."— Marx, Capital Volume I