Department of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts
MnDRIVE Area: Robotics
MnDRIVE Human in the Data Fellow, Summer 2021
Banking on/with Big Data: Decoding Value in India’s Financial Technology Industry
How is human life, captured in its fullness and reduced to a series of bytes cobbled into Big Data, becoming highly sought after globally? Scholarship on platform capitalism attributes Big Data’s value to the rise of the digital platform in the technology industry. However, this overlooks a key mechanism constituting Big Data’s value: how non-technological industries like finance, faced with rapid technological disruption, are transforming into digital platform industries geared towards voraciously extracting data from users’ activities. I propose to build an original dataset mapping the flows of capital, robotic technologies, and professionals between perceived competitors—disruptive tech and incumbent finance—in the delivery of financial services using digital technology. This will not only reveal whether and how the digital platform’s indispensability has pushed finance into devising new data-centric models of profit generation but also illuminate the perils of monopolization as finance and technology blend into one another.