MoneyLab: Coining Alternatives
Session 8: Designing Alternatives
Conference day 2 (22 March 2014)
The everyday act of payment – transferring value from one person to another – is undergoing dramatic change. Increasingly, payment systems are situated within an array of social media – not financial – services. A variety of new actors are getting into the payment business. Many are hoping to harness the promise of transactional ‘big data’ and put it into conversation with other ‘social’ datasets. Others see in these datasets an opportunity to create new forms of value: niche ‘currencies’ based on reputation, relations and behaviour. Many are seeking to develop interoperability between these new forms, older systems like airline miles (which have been called ‘the world’s largest alternative currency’) and, indeed, good old-fashioned state-issued money. These technological and economic changes force a reconsideration not just of payment, but of money and value themselves. In order to imagine the future of payment we should also consider its history – metal department store Charga-Plates of the 1930s, the Diners’ Club, and the first charge card popularized in the 1950s-60s. Many new payment ‘rails’ are forging new channels of communication and value in the tracks of or alongside old ones.