After Money

Chris Speed, Bettina Nissen, Shaune Oosthuizen

In collaboration with: New Economics Foundation

Royal Bank of Scotland

after moneyBlockchaindatageocoinInternet of thingsIoTsmart contractvalue transactions

If you change the representation of value, does it change the values that you can represent?

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are challenging the way we perceive money. Offering new models for financial transactions, based on trust, and maintained through its open transactional database, currencies such as Bitcoin challenge the government-regulated fiat currencies that we currently use today.

However, users of cryptocurrencies are beginning to realise that it is the underlying technology of the blockchain that is likely to have the most profound effect on how we understand money. The blockchain is an global open ledger that records and verifies transactions, whilst encrypting the identity of users changes entirely how value is accounted for. No longer are banks or governments the mediators of currencies, with the power to divest or invest to dictate the flow of value within society, the blockchain decentralises money and offers a platform for its creative use. Presenting money as code, users of the blockchain are starting to explore new opportunities for how values can be represented, as technologies such as the blockchain change the representation of value.

This project will introduce the underlying principles of the blockchain to audiences that would otherwise not be consulted on the development of new currencies. Using a design-led and participatory approach, the research project will explore potential use cases for money as software through involvement with families, small businesses and local civic services. The research represents a significant contribution to contemporary debates around the emergence of new forms of value exchange and offers tangible outcomes for local, economic and academic communities.

This 18 month project addresses directly the ESRC priority area: ‘Economic performance and sustainable growth’. The innovative design of this research project, its relationship with actual high street environments and involvement of the New Economic Foundation and the Royal Bank of Scotland constitutes transformative research at the high risk, high reward end of the research spectrum.

Project ran from Jan 16 – Jun 17 ESRC funded ES/N007018/1

Project website


PI- Chris Speed, Design Informatics

RA- Bettina Nissen, Design Informatics

RA- Shaune Oosthuizen, Design Informatics

RA- Hadi Mehrpouya, Design Informatics

RA- Kate Symons- Human Geography

Photo credit: c. Chris Scott

After Money Exhibition

16 NOVEMBER 2017, 6-8PM 
17 / 18 NOVEMBER 2017, 10-5PM

The fast pace and shifting developments of cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies have been hailed as the next revolution that will change the world. More critical views of this tech-centered position however often foreground accessibility issues, security risks, technical limitations and environmental concerns. These ongoing contradicting debates and positions raise significant questions not only about new forms of currency but the economic, social and political constructs that surround them. Challenging current norms of value representation in society and culture, this exhibition aims to investigate different perspectives of how financial technologies may influence our lives. More specifically, this exhibition aims to question how new algorithmic and computational processes may influence our daily practices of value exchange and commodification. How we understand the future of such interactions has been the subject of the ESRC-funded research project After Money lead by researchers in Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.


The research project explored a series of design probes and provocations to make aspects of these new and complex technological principles more accessible to more general publics beyond often technology-focused audience. The experiential, playful and interactive designs of GeoCoin, Bitcoin Marriages and AfterMoney Sweets on show aim to challenge and uncover current value exchange practices which may move beyond monetary transactions in the future. The work presented here aims to question what constitutes currency and how it will change in the future? With new developing technologies as well as increasingly precarious economic situations, how will we exchange value beyond current monetary transactions in a distributed autonomous future? What forms of exchange will emerge and what may constitute currency and value in these different contexts? These questions were raised and discussed with the interactive installations as well as design workshops over the course of the 18-month project to engage audiences with new technological advances and to rethink future practices.


Complimentary to the research project’s work, we have selected a series of art work which aim to reconsider and challenge norms, practices and cultures of commodification and their value(s). With {poem}.py Pip Thornton critiques current practices of linguistic capitalism by feeding poetry through Google’s advertising platform AdWords, and recording the monetary value assigned to each word. Max Dovey’s piece BREATH (BRH) uses crypto-currencies to investigate the role of the body in emerging financial systems and how the body can perform computational processes by using human respiration to mine crypto-currencies. Similarly, Dominic Smith has developed a BlockMirror combines the viewer’s reflection with the act of mining currency to illustrate our value potential within this system. It hints at a possible future where all aspects of our lives and our attention are commodified and mined for currency.

Project website

Read more

After Money symposium

This two-day symposium, organised by the Centre for Design Informatics, aims to better understand the implications that FinTech, Cryptocurrency and Smart Contract developments are having on how industry, publics and governments understand money. The fast pace and shifting developments of cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies have raised significant questions not only about new forms of currency but the economic, social and political constructs that surround them. Challenging current norms of value representation in society and culture, this symposium aims to investigate different perspectives of how financial technologies may influence our lives. The symposium will comprise three sessions, each with a unique focus on FinTech Near Futures, Policy, Value and New Economics as well as Cultures of Commodification. The day is intended to bring together a variety of people from academia, industry and culture to understand the broader, cross-cutting implications of these new forms of banking, programmable money and representations of value and its wide-ranging repercussions. Eventbrite – After Money Symposium Speakers include Sarah Meiklejohn (UCL), Gavin Littlejohn (FDATA), Dug Campbell (Fankletastic Limited), Philip Godsiff (University of Surrey), Alexandre Polvora (European Commission), Doreen Grove (Scottish Government), Pip Thornton (Royal Holloway, University of London), Max Dovey (Artist & Researcher) and Dominic Smith (Independent). The symposium is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and is hosted by New Media Scotland at the Alt-w LAB as part of their ongoing 48 hours programme which began at In space. Overall, this event heralds the end of an 18-month research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. This project, in collaboration with the Royal Bank of Scotland and the New Economics Foundation, delivered a series of design probes and provocations which will be exhibited alongside the symposium in the Alt-w Lab of New Media Scotland, located on the 4th floor of the City Arts Center in Edinburgh.


Link to the project website

Read more



This short essay explains the significance of the FinBook intervention, and invites the reader to participate. We have associated each chapter within this book with a financial robot (FinBot), and created a market whereby book content will be traded with financial securities. As human labour increasingly consists of unstable and uncertain work practices and as algorithms replace people on the virtual trading floors of the worlds markets, we see members of society taking advantage of FinBots to invest and make extra funds. Bots of all kinds are making financial decisions for us, searching online on our behalf to help us invest, to consume products and services. Our contribution to this compilation is to turn the collection of chapters in this book into a dynamic investment portfolio, and thereby play out what might happen to the process of buying and consuming literature in the not-so-distant future. By attaching identities (through QR codes) to each chapter, we create a market in which the chapter can ‘perform’. Our FinBots will trade based on features extracted from the authors’ words in this book: the political, ethical and cultural values embedded in the work, and the extent to which the FinBots share authors’ concerns; and the performance of chapters amongst those human and non-human actors that make up the market, and readership. In short, the FinBook model turns our work and the work of our co-authors into an investment portfolio, mediated by the market and the attention of readers.
By creating a digital economy specifically around the content of online texts, our chapter and the FinBook platform aims to challenge the reader to consider how their personal values align them with individual articles, and how these become contested as they perform different value judgements about the financial performance of each chapter and the book as a whole. At the same time, by introducing ‘autonomous’ trading bots, we also explore the different ‘network’ affordances that differ between paper based books that’s scarcity is developed through analogue form, and digital forms of books whose uniqueness is reached through encryption. We thereby speak to wider questions about the conditions of an aggressive market in which algorithms subject cultural and intellectual items – books – to economic parameters, and the increasing ubiquity of data bots as actors in our social, political, economic and cultural lives. We understand that our marketization of literature may be an uncomfortable juxtaposition against the conventionally-imagined way a book is created, enjoyed and shared: it is intended to be.
Read more



Design and HCI researchers are increasingly working with complex digital infrastructures, such as cryptocurrencies, distributed ledgers and smart contracts. These technologies will have a profound impact on digital systems and their audiences. However, given their emergent nature and technical complexity, involving non-specialists in the design of applications that employ these technologies is challenging. In this paper, we discuss these challenges and present GeoCoin, a location-based platform for embodied learning and speculative ideating with smart contracts. In collaborative workshops with GeoCoin, participants engaged with location-based smart contracts, using the platform to explore digital `debit’ and `credit’ zones in the city. These exercises led to the design of diverse distributed-ledger applications, for time-limited financial unions, participatory budgeting, and humanitarian aid. These results contribute to the HCI community by demonstrating how an experiential prototype can support understanding of the complexities behind new digital infrastructures and facilitate participant engagement in ideation and design processes.
Read more

Kash cups

KASH cups is an interactive system of coffee cups, which aims to reveal new opportunities for the design of value systems. Use value, economic value and social value, are often disguised in the habitual processes of using money as a representation of value. The KASH Cups, a collection of RFID augmented ceramic cups, reveals these values. The material artefacts (cups) and their programmable functionality changes the roles of people in value transactions, in such a way that social interactions can become currency. In doing so, this project challenges existing notions of currency and how interaction designers can rethink the relationships between people, money and things.

KASH cups was developed through the Design United Things2Things programme for the ESRC After Money Research Project and in use at two design conferences, at Dutch Design Week 2016 and Research Through Design 2017.

Conceptual design: Chris Speed and Tuen Verkerk
Cup Design: Katy West
NFC and KASH Cloud: Ferdinand Ginting Munthe
Modelling and integration: Mark Kobine
KASH Cloud graphics: Bettina Nissen
Coordination and documentation: Jane Macdonald

Read more

"Evolution of Money"

Read more


GeoAid – Exploring Smart Contracting for Humanitarian Aid Distribution, in Power 2.0: New Digital Geographies at RGS-IBG 2017

Read more


Geocoins: Bodystorming the BlockChain

As part of the After Money project, Design Informatics developed of a piece of software called ‘GeoCoin’ that served as an introduction to what programmable currencies could offer in a technical sense, but also allow participants to test them in an urban context to support the development of their own ideas. ‘GeoCoin’ was a mobile application run from a web browser that used location information to pinpoint the participant within a map of Nieuwmarkt area of Amsterdam. Using the Bitcoin client Electrum, we were able to associate geofences (GPS locations) with transactional functions. On the map the participant was also able to see three types of icon: small bags of money scattered across the area, red hot spots, and green hot spots. In the corner of the bottom left corner of the screen two numerical amounts appeared preceded by the terms: Confirmed and Unconfirmed. Without further information, participants were asked to leave the workshop studio and venture out in to the surrounding area to discover what the three icons and the numerical values would do as they approached them.

Browser screen shot (with location on) of the GeoCoins software featuring bags of coins, and red and green GPS hotspots.

Once outside, it became relatively clear to people that the small bags of money would disappear when a participant’s location correlated with the GPS coordinates of an icon, and within moments the Unconfirmed number would increase on their screen. On returning to the studio participants described their interpretations of how the red and green hot spots worked, and why Unconfirmed and Confirmed numbers fluctuated. Many had guessed that we had used a digital currency such as Bitcoin and distributed fractions of them across the landscape. Less easy to understand, because there was no instant feedback from the icons (unlike the bags of money that disappeared as you walked over them), the group began to realise that if their location corresponded with the GPS coordinates of a red hotspot then their Unconfirmed numbers would decrease, and that if they stood on a green hotspot their Unconfirmed numbers would increase.

Gerd Kortuem running to pick up a bag of Bitcoin (before I did!).

Whilst these elements were relatively easy to understand, the question of why numbers across the Unconfirmed and Confirmed lines fluctuated was less comprehensible. The difference in the two variables was explained as being the time it took for the blockchain to ratify a transaction within a block. At this point the value of experiencing the time between Unconfirmed and Confirmed transactions began to expose some of the characteristics of a currency that requires confirmation through an entire digital network. Body storming the type of transactions that a programmable currency such as Bitcoin offers was an important step in supporting participants towards the design of their own derivations of the software, and based upon the results, the ability to perform economic software within an urban landscape informed both the conceptual development of ideas but also the representations of their work.

You can see more at geocoin.biz

Blog originally posted on Chris Speed’s website

Read more

Geocoin Workshop

This workshop introduces new developments such as blockchain and smart contracting technologies to participants in a tangible and experiential way. The aim is to foster and support creative explorations of potential future visions of value exchange in an increasingly ‘smart city’. Part of Tesco Mercury consultancy.

Link to the paper

Read more

New Value Transactions

In an age where data and their various representations proliferates many aspects of our professional and private lives, a new form of awareness and visual literacy is required to interpret, critically discuss and actively engage in activities around data
representation. Research has found Physicalization to be a productive way to introduce people to activities around data collection, processing, and representation – be it to learn about the concepts of making abstract data graspable, or to learn about complex phenomena represented within the data. This full-day hands-on workshop will explore how designing and building Physicalizations can be a way to actively learn the principles of data representation. The aim of this workshop is to (1) discuss different learning scenarios in which Physicalization activities can be beneficial, (2) explore different approaches to introduce Physicalization activities to different learning audiences, and (3) to build a community interested in the pedagogy of Physicalization.


Link to the paper

Read more

New Value Transactions


New digital technologies such as Blockchain and smart contracting are rapidly changing the face of value exchange, and present exciting new opportunities for designers. This one-day workshop will explore the implications of emerging and future technologies using the lens of Distributed Autonomous Organisations (DAOs). DAOs introduce the principle that products and
services may soon be owned and managed collectively and not by one person or authority, thus challenging traditional concepts of user communities, ownership and power. The HCI community has recently explored issues related to finance, money and collaborative practice; however, the implications of these emerging but rapidly ascending distributed organisations has not
been examined. This one-day participatory workshop will combine presentations, case studies and group work sessions to understand, develop and critique these new forms of distributed power and ownership, and to practically explore how to design interactive products and services which enable, challenge or disrupt these emerging models.

Link to the paper

Read more

New Economic Foundation

View →