Current Scholarship
Special Issue from Journal of Cultural Economy: FinTech in Africa

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Paul Langley and Daivi Rodima-Taylor

Applications of digital technologies to retail money and finance have gathered pace across the globe over the last decade, constituting novel ‘FinTech’ economies. Although FinTech is registering across critical social scientific research, insufficient dedicated attention has been paid to FinTech in Africa. Bringing together scholars from multiple disciplines and fields, this special issue asks what is different about the forms that FinTech is taking in Africa, and considers how foregrounding developments on the continent might reshape social science research agendas and political conversations around FinTech globally.

Evolving from an initial online workshop for invited participants organized by the editors in January 2021, the special issue features papers by authors from Anthropology, Development Studies, Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, and Sociology. The papers also present a range of empirical studies—from East, West, and Southern Africa, and of key African FinTech hubs, such as Cape Town. They combine specific geographical coverage with analytical attention to the multi-scalar configurations of FinTech, from the ‘macro’ to the ‘micro’, including examination of global Big-Tech companies and incumbent telecommunications firms, global development industry actors, consultants and state institutions, FinTech startups and their investors, and diverse formal and informal economic networks of FinTech users. Moreover, although mobile money, payments, and remittances rightly provide an important focus for the special issue and for research into FinTech in Africa more broadly, the papers will address an array of FinTech economies, including credit and lending, micro-insurance, applications of blockchain technologies, and the incorporation of digital technologies into informal monetary and financial relations.

The articles make three main conceptual and analytical moves to attune research to the distinctive features of FinTech in Africa, thereby shifting the focus for research (1) from global financial inclusion agendas to colonial histories and presents, (2) from economic formalization to multiple modes of economization, and, (3) from techno-economic ecosystems to statecraft and international security. Re-centering global social science research agendas and political debates on Africa, the special issue hopes to inspire further work and future political engagement with FinTech which doesn’t begin, by default, from developments and experiences in the Global West and East.

Paul Langley and Daivi Rodima-Taylor, “FinTech in Africa: An Editorial Introduction,” in “FinTech in
Africa,” ed. Paul Langley and Daivi Rodima-Taylor, special issue, Journal of Cultural Economy 15, no. 4,
(2022): 387-400, (article), (special issue).


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