Workshop Themes

The workshop will convene researchers and practitioners to develop a research agenda around four core themes that we propose as design challenges. We aim for these challenges to focus the workshop, but also to serve as a broad invitation for participation. Our full archival workshop submission for DIS 2020 is available as to download here.

Designing with Transactional Data

Sociologist Rachel O’Dwyer (2019) writes that contemporary forms of money create a ‘Cache Society’ – where money once again gains memory, and transactional records are themselves being monetised. Transactional data, made available through Open Banking and the rise of other forms of electronic money is clearly at the forefront of debates and concerns about ‘surveillance capitalism’ (Zuboff, 2015). Perhaps we could consider, like O’Dwyer, how we might design to resist and occlude these kinds of data flows? However, beyond targeted advertising, this transactional data could also be a compelling new design material. We might ask how much should our money remember? What new services could flourish through such data?

Designing Alternative Representations of Value

Perhaps the most enticing opportunities for design research lie in considering new representations of value – redesigning money itself. This might allow expression of alternative values (and forms of valuation) in contrast to those afforded by contemporary capitalist societies. Whether underpinned by blockchain infrastructures – or through new platform economies – alternative currencies can allow financial (and hence social) interactions in communities to be wholly reconfigured. As money becomes programmable and algorithmically governed, can we design for new values, practices and an ethics of care?

Money, Automation, Power and Control

Money is, of course, deeply interwoven with power and control. Many new financial technologies are envisioned to give end users greater control of their money and financial data; however, it is also evident that money that is less flexible, more conditional, automated and surveillant is an opportunity to limit individual freedoms. Numerous FinTech products resemble a form of financial assistant or bot that may offer automated advice, or even undertake transactions on your behalf (e.g. saving your digital ‘spare change’). The potential of ‘programmable money’ (Elsden et al., 2019), whose flow is dictated by a range of pre-determined data inputs is illustrated by Monzo’s integration with web automation service ‘If This Then That’ (IFTTT). Crucially, while these examples concern personally imposed conditions on money, it is quite apparent how these conditions become limiting and dystopian when imposed by others. How can we design to support individuals in controlling their money and financial data, and ward against their exploitation and manipulation?

Financial Futures with Vulnerable Users

It has long been recognised that vulnerable users are particularly at risk in managing their finances, and often rely on particular materiality and configurations of money and financial infrastructure (Vines et al., 2012). With money and payments quickly migrating to digital platforms, many people may find themselves excluded from financial services or unable to use them to their own advantage. How can we design digital financial services that guarantee full, equal and fair access for all? Further, transactional data and spending patterns have also been recognised as a potential mechanism by which to identify and protect vulnerable users. For example, we could much more carefully manage the limited delegation and oversight of financial behaviour to trusted individuals. In addition to fraud detection, it may be possible to identify early signs of poor mental health. Clearly, such services require sensitive and participatory design to ensure they work for the largest range of personal circumstances.

 

Exploring FinTech through Pastiche Scenarios

In our call, we invite attendees to provide one (or more) brief scenarios, vignettes or design fiction narratives of financial technology use (or non-use) responding to these themes. These will be presented through panels at the workshop, and then feed into the collaborative development of pastiche scenarios (Blythe & Wright, 2006).

Pastiche scenarios are helpful as a way to playfully think through more grounded and concrete scenarios of technology use. Taking the TV series Friends as an example, we could envision the implications if: Rachel’s shopping habits were visible to third-party APIs; if Pheobe attempted to use alternative currencies in the Central Perk coffee shop; or if Joey tried to use a financial bot to manage his variable income as an aspiring actor. By drawing on pastiche scenarios, we hope to create resources that can be widely shared during and after the workshop.

References

Mark A. Blythe and Peter C. Wright. 2006. Pastiche scenarios: Fiction as a resource for user centred design. Interacting with Computers 18, 5: 1139–1164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intcom.2006.02.001

Chris Elsden, Tom Feltwell, Shaun Lawson, and John Vines. 2019. Recipes for Programmable Money. In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’19), 251:1–251:13. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300481

Rachel O’Dwyer. 2019. Cache society: transactional records, electronic money, and cultural resistance. Journal of Cultural Economy 12, 2: 133–153. https://doi.org/10.1080/17530350.2018.1545243

John Vines, Paul Dunphy, Mark Blythe, Stephen Lindsay, Andrew Monk, and Patrick Olivier. 2012. The joy of cheques: trust, paper and eighty somethings. In Proceedings of the ACM 2012 conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 147–156. https://doi.org/10.1145/2145204.2145229