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Vol.18 Issue 1 (2022)

The Oracle’s Foretelling & the Case for Ambiguity: Exploring the Prophesies of Fintech & Financial Surveillance

Shohini Sengupta

This article explores the historical, social, and technical underpinnings of the global financial order predicated on massive data collection and surveillance. In particular, the article discusses the instruments of international financial regulation, and challenges the prescience of fintech, contrasting it with alternative narratives. The article does so by examining the history of financial surveillance mediated through biometric identification systems and socio-financial infrastructures, particularly in India and other post-colonial nations. The discourse is facilitated through the study of indigenous banking practices in colonial India, and the role of coloniality and slavery in shaping modern banking and surveillance practices both in India, and the United States.
The article argues that understanding this history, both of India and other countries, is key to understanding modern-day biometric identification programmes and the ensuing financial surveillance; and may open pathways to present surveillance architectures that do not encompass sufficient human agency. Lastly, the article hopes to manoeuvre the vocabulary in fintech and financial regulation from prophesies of precision and specificity to one of deliberate ambiguity in the creation of mutable and humane identities.


Associate Professor at the Jindal School of Banking & Finance, O.P. Jindal Global

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