2021/12/13 – Andrew Leyshon “Neoliberal Fairy Tales and Authoritarian Realpolitik: Regulating the Platform Ecologies of FinTech”

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This paper outlines the ways in which sovereign regulatory authorities are responding to the challenge of FinTech’s novel platform ecologies. For some western financial regulators FinTech has Goldilocks-like qualities, as the centrality of data to platform finance business models means that they may be better suited to providing consistent, up-to-date and even real time data in line with regulatory requirements.  From this perspective, platform finance business may be better able to design their systems to be ‘born regulatory compliant’, and in being data focussed, to be adaptable to changing regulatory requirements.  However, the messy geographical and political realities of the world’s emergent platform finance ecologies means that FinTech will be likely be a more unruly problem-object than many financial regulators anticipate.  The paper develops the argument by drawing on two cases studies: first, the UK, where FinTech has been celebrated by regulators as having the potential to be ‘just right’, and; second, China, where regulatory authorities have recently taken a more critical view of platforms and the ecologies they engender by enacting significant regulatory control to limit their power and agency.

This paper is co-authored by Paul Langley, Department of Geography, Durham University.

Andrew Leyshon is Emeritus Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Nottingham and Academic Partner Coordinator at the Midlands Engine.  His research has focused mainly on money and finance and the music industry, and the emergence of diverse economies and the author and editor of numerous books that reflect these interests. They include: Reformatted: code, networks and the transformation of the music industry (Oxford University Press, 2014), which explores how P2P networks and MP3 software helped remake the musical economy, and Money/Space: geographies of monetary transformation (with Nigel Thrift, Routledge 1997), which argued that not only does money have a geography, but that it is inherently geographical. He is currently undertaking research on the emergence of platform ecologies in both the financial and music industries.

Chair: Stefan Ouma, University of Bayreuth, Germany

Stefan Ouma holds the Chair of Economic Geography at the Department of Geography at the University of Bayreuth. His research interests lie in a theoretically and empirically informed economic geography of globalization and development, drawing primarily on insights from heterodox economics, political ecology, and post- and decolonial work. He has published on political economy and ecology of global commodity chains and the financialization of land and agriculture. His research foci include Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and New Zealand.

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