New Money (Hardcover)

How Payment Became Social Media

By Lana Swartz

Yale University Press, 9780300233223, 272pp.

Publication Date: August 18, 2020

List Price: 28.00*
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A new vision of money as a communication technology that creates and sustains invisible—often exclusive—communities

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 cryptocurrency schemes, a variety of technologies are poised to unseat traditional financial infrastructures. Swartz explains these changes, traces their longer histories, and demonstrates their consequences. Getting paid and paying determines whether or not you can put food on the table. She shows just how important these invisible systems are. 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.

About the Author

Lana Swartz is assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. She is the coeditor of Paid: Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Stuff.

Praise For New Money: How Payment Became Social Media

"Our daily transactions—cash, credit, points, or promises—commit us to communities, identities, and politics on the most powerful social media platform of all: the payment system. Money talks, and Swartz's book reveals its conversations, declarations, commands, and lies."—Finn Brunton, author of Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency

“New Money is an insightful, well-researched, and well-written history of the nature and uses of money. Swartz shows the profound effect the Fintech revolution will have on society and each one of us.” —Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus, VISA, Inc.

"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  

”In this groundbreaking social history, Swartz illuminates the hidden histories of payment systems and the cultural politics of transactional technologies. She reveals above all that money is a medium of communication.”—Bill Maurer, editor of A Cultural History of Money

“A masterful, grand tour of the communities and imaginaries that shape our transactional lives and the many identities we carry around in our wallets. New Money forces us to consider who is in control of our financial identity and who sets the rules for how our money works.”—Patrick Murck, Co-founder of the Bitcoin Foundation