Networks of Mistrust: Ratings, Collateral and Debt in the emergence of African cyberfinance

Presented by Keith Breckenridge

Monday, 26 August, 2019 - 15:00

This paper explores the financialisation of South African economy and society over the last forty years.  Unlike the existing scholarship it argues that the development of a debt-based economy has little to do with the influence of mining capital, and that it is much better explained by the rise of two very successful banks whose origins lie in Stellenbosch.  The first is Rand Merchant Bank, which scarcely existed in 1980, and is now, arguably, the most valuable African firm, and the second is Capitec, established in 2000, and now the fourth largest bank in South Africa.  Between them these two companies have fostered and exploited the development of a revolutionary combination of markets, networks, money forms, scores and databases that is, at once, immensely lucrative, dynamic and volatile.  This combination has comprehensively reworked the foundations of the South African economy, and it shows many signs of doing the same for many countries on the continent. 

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