A new vision of money as a communication technology that creates and sustains invisible―often exclusive―communities
"In an engaging and timely work, brimming with fascinating anecdotes and historical and literary references, Lana Swartz brilliantly illustrates how financial technologies are quietly transforming how we socialize and what it means to belong."―Jonathan Zittrain, author of The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It
One of the basic structures of everyday life, money is at its core a communication media. Payment systems―cash, card, app, or Bitcoin―are informational and symbolic tools that integrate us into, or exclude us from, the society that surrounds us. Examining the social politics of financial technologies, Lana Swartz reveals what’s at stake when we pay.
This accessible and insightful analysis comes at a moment of disruption: from “fin‑tech” startups to cryptocurrencies, a variety of technologies are poised to unseat traditional financial infrastructures. Swartz explains these changes, traces their longer histories, and demonstrates their consequences. She shows just how important these invisible systems are. Getting paid and paying determines whether or not you can put food on the table. The data that payment produces is uniquely revelatory―and newly valuable. New forms of money create new forms of identity, new forms of community, and new forms of power.