Money talks. Many of the new channels and infrastructures for payments, such as magnetic cards and their associated standards, mobile phones, the wired Internet, social media platforms, and RFID technologies, record detailed transactional data alongside a range of other identifying data. As a result, payments intermediaries now have extremely detailed records of the many ways that money circulates, is transferred and is spent. These records underpin new business models based on market segmentation, advertising, logistics and risk analysis. More significantly, they also form the basis for new forms of social segmentation, scoring and discrimination.
But alongside these practices, a transactional politics is surfacing that responds to money’s status as a surveillant technology. We can see these practices in cryptocurrencies and alternative currencies, in online obfuscation techniques, in social movements that push for the maintenance of cash, in money burning, speculative design fictions and in calls for greater transparency and accountability in online payments systems. Giving a brief overview of this space – the key platform economies and business models, this paper surfaces this transactional politics and the growing coherence of a set of practices – such as cashing in, obfuscation, mapping and ‘accounting’, that emerge in response to transactional dataveillance.