How Would You Like to Pay?

How Technology Is Changing the Future of Money

How Would You Like to Pay?

Book Pages: 176 Illustrations: 51 color illustrations Published: October 2015

Author: Bill Maurer

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Economics, Sociology

From Bitcoin to Apple Pay, big changes seem to be afoot in the world of money. Yet the use of coins and paper bills has persisted for 3,000 years. In How Would You Like to Pay?, leading anthropologist Bill Maurer narrates money's history, considers its role in everyday life, and discusses the implications of how new technologies are changing how we pay. These changes are especially important in the developing world, where people who lack access to banks are using cell phones in creative ways to send and save money. To truly understand money, Maurer explains, is to understand and appreciate the complex infrastructures and social relationships it relies on. Engaging and straightforward, How Would You Like to Pay? rethinks something so familiar and fundamental in new and exciting ways. Ultimately, considering how we would like to pay gives insights into determining how we would like to live. 


"In the end, How Would You Like to Pay? is of interest less for what it says about the future (the author makes no predictions -- which, given the Isis debacle, seems prudent) than for how it encourages the reader to pay attention to nuances of the present. It’s a primer of the anthropological imagination -- and a reminder that money is too important a matter to leave to the economists." — Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

"This little book is the exact size it needed to be to explore the array of new payment methods, currencies and other money technology innovations that have erupted over the past decade, alongside with more accessible and cheaper smartphone, tablet and other communications and computing technologies.... Entering electronic money contracts without understanding the problems and solutions they represent is risky both for the isolated farmer in Kenya and for a Silicon Valley executive, so both would benefit from this book." — Anna Faktorovich, Pennsylvania Literary Journal

"How Would You Like to Pay? by anthropologist Bill Maurer is a reminder that we can learn from anthropology as well. Maurer takes a broad look at the history and various forms of money and makes several important points that should be seriously considered by economists."  — James J. Angel, Journal of Economic Literature

"As an anthropologist, Bill Maurer has spent the past two decades researching the cultural and social dynamics of money. In his latest book, he manages to condense his life’s research into one gripping, bite-sized read that is accessible to a diverse range of readers from the artist and software programmer to the financial regulator or economist." — Scott Burns, The Independent Review

"Maurer’s latest book is a . . . highly accessible introduction to the complex topic of payment systems. Written in an engagingly informal style accompanied by eye-catching photographs, it is an excellent teaching resource that will surely become a standard feature of reading lists in undergraduate courses in economic anthropology and the anthropology of finance and money."  — John Cox, Anthropological Forum

"[T]he book gives in a very accessible and short text enough arguments for anthropologists to start taking seriously payment systems, technologies, and money uses, in the interaction between states, corporations, and people with very different access to wealth and political participation. It shows these are fundamental components of everyday life, and of any attempt to tackle poverty." — Horacio Ortiz, Anthropos

"Maurer’s volume is beautifully produced and pocket-sized, with lots of sharp illustrations in full colour and generous spacing.... Maurer’s book is for anyone interested in the future of money. That is a lot of people. It aims to surprise readers by approaching money in ways that are at once counter-intuitive and familiar." — Keith Hart, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"Maurer’s careful attention to demystifying payment terminology such as blockchain or decentralized peer networks makes understanding digital currency possible for a wider audience.... Maurer poses important and timely questions of how we will imagine money in the context of technical affordances and society."
  — Ashley Cordes, New Media & Society

"Bill Maurer’s short, pocket-sized, succinct, lively, and sharply clear book on a vast and varied topic—the history and practice of monetary payments, worldwide—works like a skillfully cut gemstone. Keep turning, keep noticing new facets of the complexly brilliant entity that is money, as perceived and crafted for accessible view by an expert in reaching a wide and varied audience." — Jane I. Guyer, Journal of Anthropological Research

"A lucid and entertaining work that shines a light on many of the complexities of money and payments. Bill Maurer makes us realize—and remember—that money is not just economics and process, but also an integral part of human life, and that the psychology and behavioral dynamics around money are just as important to understand as the business aspects. A must-read!"  — Carol Coye Benson, Glenbrook Partners


Availability: In stock
Price: $21.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Bill Maurer is Dean of the School of Social Sciences; Professor of Anthropology, Law and Criminology, Law and Society; and the Director of the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Pious Property: Islamic Mortgages in the United States and Mutual Life, Limited: Islamic Banking, Alternative Currencies, Lateral Reason.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii

Introduction. Who This Book Is For  1

1. Disruptions in Money  17

2. What Is Money?  37

3. Two Scenarios: A Day in the Money Life  51

4. The Evolution of Money  63

5. Use Cases for Money  79

6. What's in Your Wallet?  95

7. What Can You Do with a Mobile Phone?  107

8. Airtime  119

9. Monetary Repertoires  129

For Further Reading  145

Index  153
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5999-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5956-2