New Money explains how payment became a form of social media

When you think about money, you probably don’t think about it as a form of media. Apps like Venmo, PayPal, and Square’s Cash App have blurred the line between payment platforms and social media. But there’s a long history of financial services being used as a communications medium — from Western Union to Visa to bitcoin.

Lana Swartz, an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, points out in her new book, New Money: How Payment Became Social Media, how the technologies of money map perfectly alongside the technologies of communication and media.

“If we think about paper money,” Swartz explains, “it’s covered with iconography that tells particular kinds of histories and projects, and particular kinds of…

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