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David Bassens (Brussels)
Reijer Hendrikse (Brussels)
Karen Lai (Durham)
Dariusz Wójcik (Oxford)
This workshop, to be held 1-5pm GMT on 25th November and 8-12am GMT on 26th November, will bring together a global audience of academics, industry practitioners and regulators to take stock of emerging, evolving and maturing geographies of financial technology (FinTech). FinTech operates at the intersections of the financial and technology sectors, where big technology (BigTech) firms and start-ups are creating new platforms, products, and services beyond those currently provided by the traditional finance industry. FinTech domains and applications cover a wide range – from blockchains, cryptocurrencies and artificial intelligence, to robo-advising, mobile platforms and big data analytics. Instead of being threatened by the ‘disruptive’ potential of FinTech as such, incumbent banks and financial institutions have become more aggressive in the adoption and development of FinTech through the acquisition of technological capabilities, partnerships with tech firms, and setting up FinTech platforms. Novel digital solutions are increasingly rolled out in ‘underbanked’ environments leading to the rapid financial enclosure/inclusion of populations in the Global South. Meanwhile, regulatory attention has shifted towards BigTech platforms and their endeavours into finance and even monetary policy, such as Facebook aiming to develop a global digital currency. Increasingly, there are geopolitical implications to these developments, as American BigTechs and financial regulators are increasingly challenged by major Chinese platforms, amidst broader trade tensions relating to technology and security issues. This raises the increasingly significant role of FinTech in the rise and evolution of ‘surveillance capitalism’ and concerns over the rights of data ownership and utilization. The relevance and potential impacts of FinTech have become all the more pertinent in the age of coronavirus and the accelerated shift towards online transactions and consumption practices.
The workshop seeks contributions on 4 key themes, with discussions including (but not limited to):
- Economic geographies of FinTech:
- How does the rise of FinTech coincide with changes at the level of institutions, eco-systems, financial center, and global financial networks?
- Does FinTech require new business models and organizational forms and how do they manifest themselves geographically?
- How are FinTech innovations anchored in material and immaterial geographies of financial centers?
- Is FinTech changing the division of labor between financial centers?
- Geopolitics of digital finance:
- How is the rise of FinTech to be contextualized as part of wider geopolitical shifts in the current world-system?
- What is the political economy of FinTech and how, why, and to what extent does the state take an active role in strategically coupling Fin and Tech in its territory?
- How is FinTech mobilized to enhance extraterritorial reach and new spheres of state and non-state influence?
- FinTech and the finance-development complex:
- How are new FinTech markets constructed in the Global North/South?
- What is the relation between these digital enclosures and wider Global North-South power relations?
- To what extent are states utilizing digital finance as a means to other ends, such as developmentalist or surveillance agendas?
- Social and cultural studies of digital subjectification:
- How does digital finance transform notions of financial/digital citizenship?
- What strategies and processes are at work in driving people to certain digital platforms?
- What are the consequences of digital subjectification and enclosures on the lives of citizens in terms of access and quality of services and control over personal data?
We welcome scholars from different geographical and disciplinary backgrounds and at different career stages to present their latest research plans and results (rather than published work) on these topics. To be considered, please send a title and abstract of 250 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by 9 October 2020.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel