Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Teaching about money’s origins—and its possible cryptographic futures—with Proto-cuneiform

Guest post on the CREWS Project by Professor and IMTFI Director Bill Maurer 
February 11, 2019

Richard Mattessich (1998) opened his paper in the Accounting Historians’ Journal on 3rd millennium BCE protocuneiform with a quotation from Leonard Bernstein: “The best way to know a thing, is in the context of another discipline” (Bernstein 1976: 3). For two weeks in January, 2019, a class of 114 undergraduate students at the University of California, Irvine, drew made-up protocuneiform tables based on Nissen et al. (1993) after reading Mattessich’s accountant’s perspective on them. They did so as part of a class on “The Future of Money.” The class is still going on, and is being conducted entirely online, except for an end-of-term in person meeting with a panel of payments industry experts and final exam.

Protocuneiform tablets were chosen as the earliest surviving examples of economic transactions utilizing a type of proto-writing that would later develop into the more abstract wedge-shapes of classic cuneiform.  The earliest examples date from the late 4th millennium BC (around 3200-3000), from the area of Uruk, and commonly include ‘pictographic’ signs denoting the goods being counted alongside numerals. (You can read more about ‘Proto-Cuneiform’ on the CDLI here and here.)

Proto-cuneiform tablet, probably from Uruk, c.3100-2900 BC. Image from HERE.

Split nearly 60%-40% between computer science majors and social science majors, the class read for two weeks on the origins of money—with video lectures in which yours truly tried to disabuse them of the received wisdom of money’s origin in barter, instead to foreground the importance of states’ administrative record keeping. The readings included some essays on tokens by Denise Schmandt-Besserat (including this interview) and parts of James Scott’s book, Against The Grain.

They started out simple….
\Then the students engaged in a collaborative exercise. Mattessich in hand, they were tasked with drawing their own protocuneiform tablet representing a grain transaction, sending it to another student who would decode it for the next student, who would make a new tablet by adding to the original tablet and sending it to another student, and so on. The online format allowed for this kind of “do something and pass it on” structure: we used an online discussion forum on the Canvas platform that displayed threaded replies so that all the students could see what the others were doing and learn along the way. To make it more manageable, the students were divided into groups of 20-25, so each initial “tablet” went through at least 10 iterations. The whole thing took two weeks, with students responding as each new tablet or new decoding was posted.

And got more and more complicated!

Errors crept in along the way. Questions arose as to the placement of symbols on the “tablets” and the difficulty of dealing with a system in which zeros were indicated by empty spaces. Some of the students got a little frustrated. For the computer science students, this was not a typical “lab.” For the social science majors, this was also outside the norm for a homework assignment. Draw an ancient protocuneiform tablet, take a picture of it and post it online for someone else to decode? Pretty weird. But after the first couple of iterations, they really got into it.

For takeaways and lessons learned, read full blogpost: https://crewsproject.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/teaching-about-moneys-origins-and-its-possible-cryptographic-futures-with-proto-cuneiform/

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

N.J. could soon ban stores from making you pay with a credit card or your phone by not accepting cash

By Brent Johnson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
(Posted Feb 1)

It may soon be illegal for New Jersey stores to keep you from paying with cash and force you to pay with a credit card or your phone instead.

Both houses of the state Legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would make New Jersey only the second state in the U.S. — and the first in 40 years — to bar no-cash policies at businesses.

It’s now up to Gov. Phil Murphy to sign or veto the measure.

Experts say it’s becoming more common for businesses to require electronic payments — especially in cities — thanks to credit cards, debit cards, self-service kiosks, and mobile devices like Apple Pay being more readily available. It’s quicker and more convenient for stores.

But experts and lawmakers say cashless businesses disenfranchise people who don’t have the means to set up a bank account or can’t afford credit card debt.

Experts say it's becoming more common for businesses to accept only credit cards and
electronic payments and banning cash. (File)
 - (Dec 2 post)

Bill Maurer, a professor at the University of California-Irvine who directs the school’s Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, said about 25 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t have access to credit cards or similar technology.

State Sen. Nellie Pou, D-Passaic, a main sponsor of this measure, cited a federal survey from 2015 that shows 7 percent of American households had no checking or savings accounts — and the number was twice as high for black and Latino households.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Academics, Innovators and Regulators at "Digital Finance in Africa’s Future"

By Sibel Kusimba, American University and Solène Morvant-Roux, University of Geneva

Sean Maliehe, Lena Gronbach  (Human Economy Program, University of Pretoria)

The international colloquium entitled “Digital Finance in Africa’s Future: Innovations and Implications” was held in Johannesburg South Africa on 22-26 Oct. 2018, organized by the Human Economy Research Programme at the University of Pretoria and the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS), in association with Disrupting Africa.

The colloquium was unusual in bringing together and encouraging interaction amongst academics studying digital finance along with African innovators (entrepreneurs), regulators/consultants and development professionals to discuss the latest developments and their impacts. For academics it was a unique opportunity to engage more with important actors in this space especially regulators and innovators. List of presenters can be found here.

John Sharp, Director of the Human Economy Program of the University of Pretoria, put it succinctly: “You need corporations and big money if your human economy is going to work. We need to think about how to bring the people with power into the conversation.”

One distinct aspect of the colloquium was the relatively small size of the group, with less than 20 participants. The live internet feed and the large public talk that launched the colloquium on the evening of Oct 22 brought larger numbers of participants, giving the meeting both an intimate feeling as well as exposure to the public and a medium to broadcast the talks and discussions to online viewers.

Innovators and Providers’ Perspectives on Academic Knowledge

The emerging and rapidly changing field of digital finance and its entwinement with development policies is often hard for academics to study. Financial services and development interests produce large amounts of data and studies, often very detailed but with an aim to find use cases for financial products, so their claims are difficult to evaluate. Often the perspective of academia feels too critical or not relevant (too complex) to innovators or practitioners. Our discussions often tried to broach these differences.

For example, we discussed the uses of well-known financial diaries developed by scholars with a view of better capturing people’s financial behavior. The collective discussion ended up challenging the broad industry belief that these reports represent a kind of pure empirical or ethnographic view of financial behavior - partly because of their detailed recording of expenditures. These industry reports and the understandings of finance they produce often focus on inflows and outflows over relatively short periods and may assume financial explanations for peoples’ behavior without assessing alternatives. In one often-cited example from Kenya, a family cannot raise enough money for a sick person, but a few weeks later raises abundant money for her funeral after she unfortunately dies for lack of care. This story is frequently used to posit a need for different financial tools that can nudge a more rational response to illness. However, a lack of trust in medical care and many other cultural reasons, important in their own right, could also explain a lack of fundraising for a hospital stay.

At the same time, our discussion showed that the more inductive approach of anthropology seems to collect information that providers and innovators may not find clearly relevant. For instance, one professional in insurance offered that his experience with oft-touted “Human Centered Design” (which is a kind of “fast” ethnography) had led to assumptions that actual users ended up refuting once the product was rolled out. Anthropological studies presented by Kusimba and Morvant-Roux also came to a fuzzy conclusion. People want to be interconnected with others using financial technologies, but they want to be autonomous as well. More work needs to be done to further understandings that can make sense for product development.

Sibel Kusimba (American University)
The study done by Nnamdi Oranye on undocumented migrants in Nigeria also highlighted that meeting social obligations is as important as being able to fulfill personal projects and aspirations (and therefore call for specific financial services). This result was confirmed by Morvant-Roux from a study on undocumented Mexican migrants living in the USA. Financial services around international remittances would do a better job by acknowledging such a duality rather than trying to induce a rationality that doesn’t really exist.

It was humbling and also inspiring to learn more about the perspectives of innovators. For them the Silicon Valley catchwords like “disruption” have a lure and a kind of hope for African innovation that academics might take more seriously. At the same time the entrepreneurs also revealed that their pitches for funding often must refer to frameworks around charity and African development, which many felt influence the kinds of fintech that get funded in Africa. One innovator located his company in the Philippines after being frustrated by this mindset among Western venture capitalists.

The Regulatory Future of African Finance

The final area of great interest and a real opportunity for new exposure for an academic was the important talks by regulators. Dr. Steven Nduati was a Central Bank of Kenya payments regulator behind the M-Pesa legend, who felt that regulation must anticipate how financial technologies eventually work but must also be flexible and responsive to how these new technologies end up being used. The former Finance Minister of South Africa, Trevor Manuel, gave a compelling keynote. Speaking around “the intersection between finance and data," he noted that in the past politics involved land and physical assets – but in the 21st century, there will be an economy of data. How will African governments deal with privacy and security issues, and who controls and owns the data? A marked example was the case of South Africa’s innovative government cash transfer programs.  In the case of Sassa, Gronbach brought evidence that the South-African State has let a private tender taking advantage of the most vulnerable population segments through massive unauthorized deductions from the social grants and therefore undermining the social protection floor. Mesfin Fikre from University of Addis Ababa University and previous IMTFI alum added, “if the pace of M-pesa of Kenya continuous, for sure it will capture the data of almost all Kenyans, which gives it an upper hand in the future digital economy. This is because, having (owning) data means owning a weapon. So, it is high time to consider ‘who owns and control such data?’. Given the participation of foreign companies (investors) in the area, this scales up the problem. For example, in Ethiopia, mobile money related data is captured by foreign companies working in the area (BelCash and M-Birr).”

Manuel also warned that mobile money was largely becoming a solution for the poor, and expressed concern that African fintech would eventually lead to two solutions—remitting solutions for the poor, and traditional banking and investing for the affluent.

Nnanmdi Oranye (Disrupting Africa), Mario Fernandez (GoSocket), Funmi Arewa (Temple Law)

“The engagement of representatives of industry and academia offered an opportunity to engage with real world contexts within which digital finance technologies are actually used. The contributions by anthropologists (particularly Morvant-Roux and Kusimba) enabled a better understanding of varied on the ground uses and understanding about technologies,” says Olufunmilayo Arewa, Professor at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law and IMTFI Academic Advisory Board member. “Conceptions and uses of digital finance technologies in Africa and elsewhere are complex and multifaceted and constantly changing. A dialogue that includes both industry and academia offers needed insight into technology practices on the ground.”

Ideally more interaction between regulators, innovators, and academics—bringing “the people with power into the conversation”—one could imagine new futures for digital money in Africa that would prevent both the abuse of the data economy and the potential isolation of mobile money and remittance products from broader fintech innovations.

See blogpost 1 here: "Colloquium on ‘Digital Finance in Africa’s Future: Innovations and Implications’"

Photo credit: Riaan de Villiers, acumen publishing solutions

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Some businesses want to make you pay with a credit card or your phone by not accepting cash. N.J. could soon ban that

By Brent Johnson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Experts say it's becoming more common for businesses to accept only credit cards and
electronic payments and banning cash. (file)

No card, no phone, no problem.

A group of state lawmakers want to make New Jersey only the second U.S. state — and the first in 40 years — to ban businesses from refusing to accept cash from customers and requiring them to pay electronically.

The bill — which a state Senate committee will consider Monday — comes at a time when cities like New York and Philadelphia are weighing similar measures.

Experts say cashless businesses are becoming more common — especially in cities — thanks to a proliferation of credit and debit cards, self-serve kiosks, and mobile devices like Apple Pay that make it easier for customers to simply swipe and go.

But experts and lawmakers also warn that can disenfranchise people who don’t have the means to set up a bank account or can’t afford to be burdened by credit card debt.

“When you start going cashless, you marginalize people who are older, poorer, younger, who haven’t established credit — or people who don’t want to use credit to buy a pack of gum. Which would be me," said state Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester, one of the bill’s main sponsors.

“For people that want to (use credit), that’s fine,” Moriarty added. “But stores should still accept legal tender, which is the U.S. dollar.”

Bill Maurer, a professor at the University of California-Irvine who directs the school’s Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, said many businesses go cashless for “speed and convenience." That especially includes quick-service restaurants that are “trying to move people through quickly,” Maurer said.

It can also help prevent against robbery. Plus, Maurer said, electronic payments allow businesses to “capture data'” from customers to use for marketing and offers.

“In going cashless, you are kind of self-selecting a clientele that’s gonna be a little more higher end, spend some more money," Maurer said.

Thus, he said, these businesses are willing to overlook the added cost of devices and fees for card payments.

But Maurer said about 25 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t have access to credit cards or similar technology.

“Cash is a profoundly democratic form of payment,” Maurer said. “You just need to have it.”

For the full story, please visit: https://www.nj.com/politics/2018/12/some-businesses-want-to-make-you-pay-with-a-credit-card-or-your-phone-by-not-accepting-cash-nj-could-soon-ban-that.html

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

More Restaurants and Cafés Refuse to Accept Cash — That’s Not a Good Thing “Just because you don’t have a piece of plastic, you can’t get a sandwich?”

By Alexa Tsoulis-Reay in New York Magazine's Grub Street

Cash-free businesses create a gulf between the people who can go there, and those who can’t.
Photo: Dirk Butenschön/EyeEm/Getty Images

I was at a health-food and coffee shop on East Houston, grabbing an $11 vegan sandwich for lunch, when I noticed the man next to me, who appeared to be homeless, trying to buy a cup of coffee. The entire exchange wasn’t going well: First, there was the absence of any traditional milk from the dairy-free café’s “vegan mylk” selection. The coffee’s price, $2.95 for a small, was also fairly steep. But just as it looked like the situation was going to resolve itself, a final, insurmountable hurdle arrived: As the would-be customer started to pay with a stack of coins and notes in his hand, an employee was forced to tell him that cash wasn’t accepted at the café. Eventually, he gave the coffee to the man, only after the three of us stared at each other uncomfortably.

Until then, I had been aware of cash-free restaurants and cafés, but had never fully grasped the effects of their growing numbers. Afterward, I realized “cashless” coffee shops, cafés, and take-out spots are everywhere. It also struck me that these businesses force people to adopt a way of shopping and living that not everyone wants, and that in doing so they create a gulf between people who can shop at these businesses and people who can’t.

The more I thought about it, the more these businesses began to infuriate me. Are these business owners trying to keep out certain customers? What about children? Or people who are paid in cash, or others who, for whatever reason, can’t or won’t open a bank account (because they are undocumented, for example, or do not have a home or a fixed address)? What about tourists who simply want to avoid bank exchange rates? What about other people who, quite reasonably, don’t love the idea of companies like Apple and Square being able to track their complete purchase histories?

And aren’t the businesses that refuse to accept cash really just sending a not-so-subtle message about the types of customers they want?

“We already have so many forms of stigma and discrimination in this country,” says Bill Maurer, a UC Irvine professor who also directs the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, “and now we are adding mode of payment to the list — if we start marking belonging by ‘means of payment,’ that’s a big problem.” Maurer, who coordinates research in over 40 countries about the impact of new payment technologies on people’s well-being, encourages everyone to seriously think about the long-term ramifications of a “cashless revolution” — but that doesn’t seem to bother cash-free advocates too much.

“Cash is our main competitor; I don’t envy being in cash’s position,” a Visa spokesperson told me recently. In summer of 2017, the credit-card company announced a “cashless challenge” that would award a $10,000 prize to businesses that went completely cash-free. The cashless challenge, the spokesperson explained, was designed to “make it okay to say I am cash free, and hopefully encourage others to come forward, too.”

For the full story, please visit - www.grubstreet.com/2018/11/cashless-restaurants-cafes-problems.html

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Colloquium on ‘Digital Finance in Africa’s Future: Innovations and Implications’

by Lena Gronbach and Prof. John Sharp

An international Colloquium entitled ‘Digital Finance in Africa’s Future: Innovations and Implications’ was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 22-26 October 2018.

Opening Keynote: Mr. Trevor Manuel

Organised by the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study and the Human Economy Research Programme at the University of Pretoria, in association with Disrupting Africa, the colloquium brought together African innovators in the field of digital finance, as well as academics from various disciplines within the humanities, to discuss the latest developments in this increasingly important field.

The participants were drawn from a variety of academic institutions and FinTech companies, including the University of Geneva, the University of Addis Ababa, The Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion (IMTFI), Temple University, and the American University, as well as MFS Africa, eTranzact, Creditable, Wala, Inclusivity Solutions and Gosocket. The South African Reserve Bank and the Central Bank of Kenya were represented as well.

The Colloquium had two complementary aims. The first was to give some key players in the field of digital finance in Africa the opportunity to highlight the extent and sophistication of their innovations, and to discuss their successes as well as the obstacles and challenges they face. The second aim was to bring these innovators into conversation with academics with a special interest in the social, political and economic implications of the innovations in question.

South Africa’s former Minister of Finance, Mr. Trevor Manuel, opened the colloquium by emphasizing the importance of understanding the social and economic implications of new payment technologies and the need for prudent yet enabling regulation: “We must build on the success of mobile money, where Africa is recognized as a world leader. But much depends on the extent to which existing institutions can respond the demands of rapid, repeated structural and cultural shifts, and, at the same time, drive financial access to better serve all people across Africa.” Further, he acknowledged that “we have to focus on whose interests will best be served by the race to digitalization” – in other words, to consider the social impact of FinTech innovations in addition to their technological feasibility and financial profitability.

Mr. Manuel’s keynote speech led into an open discussion guided by Nnamdi Oranye, FinTech author and founder of Disrupting Africa, and Stephen Mwaura Nduati, former head of the Central Bank of Kenya’s national payment system.

Stephen Mwaura Nduati (former head of the national payments system of the Kenyan Central Bank) and Mesfin Fikre Woldmariam (University of Addis Ababa/ IMTFI alumni)

Eight working sessions took place over the next four days, each consisting of presentations by an innovator and an academic or a regulator, followed by group discussion. The topics included mobile money and digital payments, regulation, agent networks, remittances, G2P transfers, insurance, start-up capital, and the blockchain. While the number of delegates was kept small to allow for in-depth discussion among the delegates, ‘virtual participants’ from across the globe could follow the sessions via a live streaming platform and submit their comments and questions online.

The consensus that emerged from the lively and highly interactive discussions – frequently extending beyond the allocated time slots – was that there is a strong need for innovators, regulators and academics to engage in regular and interdisciplinary debate. While most innovators are aware that the technological feasibility of an invention does not guarantee that it will be socially beneficial, they do not always have the expertise to consider the wider implications of their technological prowess. And while humanities researchers can provide these insights, they do not always fully understand the technological complexity involved or the financial and regulatory challenges faced by innovators. Finally, regulators need to balance the interests of governments, banks, and FinTech start-ups with broader concerns about social and economic development. This difficult task requires insights into both the technological and the social implications of FinTech innovations and new financial products.

As one of the delegates put it: “Every innovator in Africa should have a Humanities scholar, such as an anthropologist, alongside them for the journey. The insights that emerged when we brought innovators and academics together were exceptional and far exceeded anything we could have imagined.”

Nnamdi Oranye, founder of Disrupting Africa

Other noteworthy points made by the delegates included the need to incorporate FinTech-related topics into academic curricula in order to prepare students for their future in a digital and globally connected world in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Further, the participants emphasized the need for a focused, interdisciplinary research agenda that explores both the technological and the social implications of FinTech innovations in different geographic, cultural and regulatory settings.

With these goals in mind, the organizers would like to encourage individuals, companies and institutions with an interest in these issues to join our emerging network of scholars, innovators and regulators (contact details below). The highly successful format of this Colloquium lends itself to replication in other parts of the world where innovations such as mobile money have already had a transformative impact or will do so in the near future.

From left to right, back row: Mari-Lise du Preez (i2i), Olufunmilayo Arewa (Temple University), Ubuhle Zwane (MFS Africa), Sean Maliehe (UP), John Sharp (UP), Dare Okoudjou (MFS Africa), Peter Vale (JIAS), Stephen Mwaura Nduati (FinTech consultant), Sechaba Ngwenya (Creditable), Nnamdi Oranye (Disrupting Africa), Solène Morvant-Roux (University of Geneva). Front row: Observer, Hennie Bester (Cenfri), Sibel Kusimba (American University), Lena Gronbach (UP), Marc Wegerif (UP), Mario Fernandez (Gosocket), Mesfin Fikre Woldmariam (University of Addis Ababa).  

The detailed deliberations of the Colloquium will appear in the form of a conference report in early 2019. Recordings of the sessions and the opening event are now available here. Regular updates on the progress of this emerging project will be made available on the conference website.

Be on the lookout for an upcoming blogpost from IMTFI alums on conference insights!

Lena Gronbach, Researcher/Administrator: The Human Economy Research Project (Lena.gronbach@up.ac.za)

Prof. John Sharp, Programme Director: The Human Economy Research Project (John.sharp@up.ac.za)

Photo credit: Riaan de Villiers, acumen publishing solutions

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Understanding fintech from the U.S. to China

By Melissa Wrapp and Bill Maurer

On September 28-29, the 2018 California-Shanghai Innovation Dialogues hosted by UC Irvine brought together scholars, policymakers, and industry professionals from across the globe to discuss the ethics and broader social impact of emergent technologies, from insurtech to blockchain to roboadvising. Filene’s newest Fellow, Bill Maurer, gave a talk analyzing the burgeoning cryptocurrency ‘ICO’ phenomenon focusing on the power of big data and digital platforms to create seemingly totalizing systems. Here, Maurer teases out some of the major financial innovations headed our way and the socioeconomic implications that credit unions should be attuned to.

Photo credit: Marilyn Nguyen

What changes are happening in the international fintech space?
We are living in an increasingly digital world. The decreasing costs and rising quality of smart devices is accelerating fintech use. More and more we can expect to see technologies developing around what some are calling the ABCDs: AI, Blockchain, Cloud, and big Data. In China in particular, apps that create an ecosystem of different utilities, such as WeChat Pay and Alipay, are becoming giants in the mobile payments space—and reaching beyond payments into transit, bike sharing, credit, dog walking, you name it. Although their rise in China is in part linked to particularities of the local context, it is important for us to understand these technologies as companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google make moves toward integrating payments, social media, news, and other applications.

Filene Fellow Bill Maurer. Photo Credit: Marilyn Nguyen.
Americans sometimes struggle to understand what they see as Chinese consumers’ relaxed attitude toward data aggregation. What is the appeal of these apps?
For many in China, it is the same as the reason we in the US unthinkingly click through user license agreements without reading: convenience. Analysts are often quick to jump to a framework of surveillance and oppression in conceptualizing Chinese financial innovations. This isn’t unreasonable given the government’s proclivities toward censorship. There are already signs that “social credit” schemes (think Uber ratings, but for everything in your life) may be used to silence political dissidents. And products like Zhima Credit (also known as Sesame Credit), a new social credit scoring system offered by Ant Financial, coincide with broader government plans to collect citizens’ social credit data. However, as scholars at the conference pointed out, these possibilities for algorithmic governance fit into a much broader system of regulation geared toward promoting and maintaining trust in China’s low-trust market environment. So it is important to keep in mind that “convenience” in China is bound up in the social value of stability, concerns over fraudulent goods, and transparent pricing; and that it means something completely different than it does in the American context.

What is something unexpected social scientists have discovered about how people are engaging with new fintech?
People in the tech space often pitch their products in terms of revolutionary, wholesale disruption. However, what we are finding is that rather than entirely replacing things that came before, fintech is creating new layers of possibilities. Turning again to social credit schemes in China, for example, researchers have found that migrant workers are using new apps to access credit in order to extend longstanding patterns of informal lending to friends. Migrants’ efforts to improve their credit scores, therefore, are not linked to a desire to consume more for themselves, but to be able to lend to relations and friends. It is important to pay attention to the way new technologies mix up formal and informal practices, as well as older traditions and tendencies around money with new delivery channels, interfaces, and possibilities. All these continue to be informed by culturally specific moral logics around money, as well as existing financial practices.

Insurtech panel (LtoR): Lei Guang, Liz McFall, Xian Xu, Robert Collins
Photo Credit: Marilyn Nguyen 
What do participants in the credit union movement need to understand about new fintech products?
Despite our best efforts to channel our customers’ behavior toward certain ends, humans will always find workarounds. No matter how “intelligent” roboadvising becomes, for example, it will never fully exclude affect and emotion. No matter how much data is collected by insurtech companies, there will always be a smoker who lives forever and a marathoner who dies young. Sociologist Liz McFall reminds us that the origins of the word risk are related to “things to avoid in the sea.” There will always be things to avoid in the sea: sea monsters, rocks, and reefs lurking beneath the surface that are not fully known. It is better to recognize when people are tinkering, subverting, and otherwise creatively repurposing our technology and try to understand what they are up to and why, than to assume they will adopt tech the way we intend.

Take this conversation to the next level with Filene Fellow, Bill Maurer, when he speaks to how credit unions should analyze the risks of adopting new fintech with its promises and opportunity costs at big.bright.minds.2018. big.bright.minds. brings together experts from each of Filene’s Centers of Excellence to help us redefine consumer financial wellness. Join Bill Maurer and Filene in San Diego on December 6-7.

See original post - https://filene.org/blog/understanding-fintech-from-the-us-to-china

Melissa K. Wrapp
PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology
University of California, Irvine

Bill Maurer
Dean, School of Social Sciences; Professor, Department of Anthropology and School of Law; Director, Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion
University of California, Irvine