Credit, debt and decision making in FinTech interface design

Authors: James Ash*, Newcastle University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: FinTech, digital geographies, digital interfaces, High Cost Short Term Credit
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom A, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper draws upon the example of High-Cost-Short Term Credit (HCSTC) products accessed via digital interfaces and devices to examine new practices of interface design in FinTech. Utilising interviews with HCSTC website designers and users of these products, the paper shows how these interfaces are designed and tested to manage frictions: practical, affective or emotional blocks that interrupt or stop users from applying for these products and entering into credit and debt. We suggest that the key role of interface design is to manage these frictions by guiding action in such a way to minimise intentional or propositional thought and negative affective states at key thresholds of the application process. The management of friction is enabled by practices of data driven design, where the contingency of human response is engineered through analytics in order to increase rates of application. Working through the example of HCSTC, the paper complicates a notion of control as a smooth or automatic operation of power, instead emphasising the necessity of both continuity and discontinuity as key to modulating action in FinTech.

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