How do the Dutch actually pay? Peering into people's wallets

June 19th 2018

The Dutch are famous for preferring domestic financial services to foreign ones. As many an unsuspecting traveler to the Netherlands has discovered, it can be difficult to buy things without a Dutch debit card.

In fact, the Dutch love their own products so much that they even invented their own payments system called iDeal to prevent PayPal from gaining market dominance.

However, things are changing. Financial services are increasingly accessible across international borders, thanks to a combination of technological and regulatory developments.

How will this affect the Dutch market for financial services? Will they adopt foreign financial services, or will they stick with homegrown ones? The Dutch National Bank (DNB) does their own excellent research on payments in the Netherlands. We took a slightly nosier approach, peering into people’s bags and wallets to see what they use and how they use it.

Read Part I and Part II of this article on The Paypers website.

Ethnography, economics, and the limits of evidence

June 19th 2018

Evidence produced within quantitative disciplines like economics and finance carries an aura of gospel. The numbers, models, and forecasts we see in economic reports and market analyses in the news and reports seem certain, authoritative, and unarguable.

Built on large data sets that are analyzed with widely accepted theories and tools, economic and financial evidence have become hugely influential in governance and business—so much so that more qualitative approaches have been sidelined.

Even political economy, the original economics, has been pushed away in favor of what’s now called ‘evidence-based decision-making’. The presumption is that numerical data is the only solid information, and that the analytical tools used in economic and market analysis are reliable.

Of course, as we know now, this faith in economic evidence can be dangerous. As markets crashed around the world during the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, confidence in all kinds of quantitative modeling crashed with them. It became evident that society’s shepherds were not to be found in the financial industry. Economics and finance need to be more skeptical about their evidence if they are to serve society well. What can be done?

Read this blog post on the EPIC website

GDPR for qualitative researchers

May 25th 2018

Today the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) finally comes into effect. This European regulation is exciting because it offers all kinds of protections and choices to ordinary citizens.

From now onwards, organizations must ask Europeans for explicit consent to collect and store their data, and they must explain exactly what data they're collecting, and what it will be used for.

Even better, Europeans gain the "right to be forgotten," which means they can ask organizations to delete their data permanently (unless they have valid legal reasons for holding on to it).

This is great for the people we study. But what does it mean for us researchers? How does the GDPR affect the ways we seek consent? How does it affect our data storage? What happens if people want to be forgotten?

Money talk II: Language and the financial system

January 10th 2018

In Money Talk I, Is money language?, I explored how money and language are interconnected, and asked whether it is possible for money to exist without language. Here I cover the role that money talk plays in the financial system as a whole, and some recent work on the Utopian possibilities of money.