MoneyLab #7: Outside of Finance

On feminist economics, social payments, corporate crime and the “blokechain”

The social is being monetized left, right and center. From micropayments to data trading, new money systems are becoming mainstream overnight. What remains of agency in a cashless society? While transactions are becoming digital, personal data ownership slips through users’ hands. What does it mean when a tech giant like Facebook enters the scene with its Libra “currency-for-the-good”? Does the porn industry, once again, lead the way in fintech uptake?

Despite dreams of radical shifts, blockchain fantasies overflow with the same old male biases. Now that the crypto-hype has become mainstream, it is more important than ever to reassert control over the definition of money. What will be the result of the regulatory regimes striving to “civilize” fintech? How do we hijack the competition between established players and new financial elites in markets that are still caught in bubble and burst dynamics?

Since 2013, MoneyLab has explored questions around the design of money, the democratization of finance, and the new shifts in fintech. At MoneyLab #7, we’ll be looking beyond the world of libertarian startups with their often masculine preoccupations. From hyperlocal cryptocurrencies at techno festivals to self-organized exchange systems in refugee communities, what are promising design strategies to counter the corporatization of money? Can we imagine a crypto economy that values care work and focuses on equity and solidarity?

Join us at this home-based 7th edition filled with workshops, performances, screenings and discussions on pressing financial issues. With artists, academics, activists and geeks, we explore what roles art, activism and design can play in expanding the financial ecology of alternatives.

When: 14 + 15 November 2019

Where: Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam

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Tickets:

Regular tickets: Day ticket 30 euro, passe-partout 60 euro.

Students (other then HvA): 50% discount.

You can get your tickets here.

HvA employees and students can get a free ticket by sending an e-mail (from your HvA e-mail address) to barbara [at] networkcultures [dot] org.

Register for the MoneyLab mailinglist to stay up to date.

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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14

1. New Horizons & Counter Narratives

This panoramic opening session offers an overview of the diversity of topics that are emerging outside of the mainstream. An alternative political economy is not merely about including voices that have long been marginalized or excluded. For one, it understands that the history and the development of capitalism and global finance—including its concepts, theories and methods—are gendered, racialized, sexualized, and eurocentric, and its effects reach far beyond the financial markets. A critical approach to global finance requires the examination of its operations as normalizing, unequal relations. This work includes the dismantling of strong-holding grand narratives that seem to be impervious to change and criticism. 

During this panel, Micky Lee offers a feminist political economic and postcolonial critique of the Tulipomania discourse. Brett Scott discusses the politics and many faces of digital cash. Ana Teixeira Pinto delves into the xenofobia and anti-Semitism of Bitcoin ideologues. Reijer Pieter Hendrikse explains the relation between offshore finance and the breakup of social contracts underlying welfare states, ecological disaster, financial crises and rising authoritarianism. 

Speakers: Micky Lee, Brett Scott, Ana Teixeira Pinto, Reijer Pieter Hendrikse

Moderator: Geert Lovink

2. Financial Hacking: From Dark Web Smokescreens to White-Collar Crime

Stories of the entanglement of offshore banking, cryptocurrencies, the dark web, and white-collar (cyber)crime abound, leading to calls for crackdowns, policing and prohibition. A growing group of financially and technically literate journalists and scholars are doing the important work of shedding an informed light on the relations between central banks, governments, the crypto industry, the dark web, and global white-collar crime schemes.

While some look at possible ways forward for regulating and reforming cryptotechnologies, others outline the newest tactics in online extortion and the sale of illegal goods. What are the takeaways of these different investigative projects? What can be learned from American, Chinese and Russian attempts to regulate and reform? 

Josephine Wolff provides an account of the larger history and development of cybercrime business models, from the theft of payment card data to identity fraud and ransomware. Malcolm Campbell-Verduyn discusses the perils and possibilities of bringing cryptocurrencies into official regulatory remit. 

Speakers: Malcolm Campbell Verduyn, Josephine Wolff, Thomas Bollen.

3. Payments and the Platforms: Libra’s Monetization of the Social 

Facebook’s Libra aims to financialize the social by monetizing communication, including the communication of nearly 2 billion so-called unbanked. It is not nearly the only Tech Giant rich in information and data that aims to get its foot in the digital currency and payment industry. There’s Apple Pay, which allows Apple users to pay with their Iphone or Apple Watch, there’s Google Pay (formerly known as G Pay) a digital wallet and online payment system for Android and Google users, and Amazon is opening a checking system that may apply for financial license. What lessons have we learned from the platformization of the internet? Is this the Battle Royal for the unbanked? Will the dream of a participatory, free, P2P, transactional community that dismantles the age-old architecture of financial power end up in a centralized, global, one-currency payment system headed by white, male, wishy-washy bankers-cum-techfeudalists? What can we expect from the competition between these new financial competitors?

Lana Swarts argues that if national currency represents liberal democracy, and Bitcoin represents some combination of techno-libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism, then Libra represents Silicon Valley feudalism. Andrea Fumagalli historicizes the liberalization of the issuance of money all the way up to today’s attempt by Libra to financialize sentiments in “the economy of interiority.” Valeria Ferrari discusses what remains of the dream of peer-to-peer, decentralized platforms in light of Libra. Rachel O’Dwyer talks about a little discussed line from Libra’s white paper in which Facebook states its  interest in developing an open identity standard.

Speakers: Lana Swartz, Andrea Fumagalli, Valeria Ferrari, Rachel O’Dwyer

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15

4. Beyond the “Blokechain”: the Cryptofeminist Agenda

Right now: imagine a self-sustaining currency. What would its payment system look like? What values define its sustainability? What kinds of ways of relating to people, things and the environment does it promote? Is it possible to be ‘rich’ or ‘poor’ within this system? 

And now, imagine a cooperative, feminist and commons-oriented Distributed Cooperative Organization (DisCO). What does an organization which prioritizes mutual support, cooperativism and care work among people and the environment do? What does another day in such a DisCo look like? How could our modes of expression within such communities dismantle phallocentric systems? And what about putting feminist economics to practice by starting a people’s bank that works with (fin)tech to encode feminist values into its currency network. Yay or yay? 

 

This session aims to open your mind. Andy Morales Coto tickles your imaginative bones by offering visual prompts to help us redesign the world’s economic future. Ruth Catlow explores the spaces of convergence between the Commons and P2P movements along with the world of cooperatives and the Social and Solidarity Economy. Denise Thwaites offers a feminist analysis of DAO cultures and the emergent affective economies they instate. And Ailie Rutherford shows how feminist economics can be put into practice on a daily basis by presenting her real and existing The People’s Bank of Govanhill.

 Speakers: Andy Morales Coto, Ruth Catlow, Denise Thwaites, Ailie Rutherford.

Moderator: Rachel Falconer

5. The Artennae of Finance

Art can pin the interlocking of imperialist, white, supremacist, capitalist patriarchy on a map. Art can redesign value, reconfigure capitalism and disrupt systems designed to consolidate power. Art can draw the lines that connect western art history, to value systems, to property laws and crypto-kitties, point to alternative routes toward collectivity and decentralized distribution, and away from enforced scarcity and deflationary speculation economies. Art makes connections between digital economy, anthropogenic concerns, precarious labor, the sex work, and climate justice.

Below the waters of the Channel risked by migrants in an attempt to cross and enter the UK lie the fastest microwave submarine cables network that connect the exchange markets of Frankfurt and London. Alexandre Laumonier details the use of the same infrastructure by financial traders and migrants. Stephanie Rothenberg maps the explicit links between the environmental crisis, big money, and alternative forms of digital economies. Eric Barry Drasin introduces the distributed art object, a technological and legal stack that gives rise to an emergent concept of digital art forms of ephemeral property. Antonia Hernández dicusses the power politics of tokens on sexcam platforms and money-activated teledildonics.

Speakers: Alexandre Laumonier, Eric Barry Drasin, Antonia Hernández, Stephanie Rothenberg, Aude Launay

Moderator: Patricia de Vries 

6.  AltFin: Experiments from Prototype to Pilot

This session is a wild mix of workshops, project pitches, local reports, and film screenings that show ways into a future for alt-finance.

Project Pitches by: Gregory Tsardanidis (Synergy), Silvia Díaz Molina (P2P Models), Anne Kervers (Unmuting Money)

Workshops by: RYBN, Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab, Furtherfield & Martin Zeilinger

Films by: Mischo Antadze, Emily Martinez

7. MoneyLab General Assembly 

The event ends with a General Assembly. All are welcome to contribute!

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The final program will be announced in by the end of September. Register for the MoneyLab mailinglist to keep up to date.

If your institution requires a letter of invitation in order to cover costs to attend the conference, we can provide this for you. Please contact barbara [at] networkcultures [dot] org