The cryptocurrency world has transformed in a few short years from a niche subculture to a parallel economic universe, reaching a market capitalization of more than $2.5 trillion in 2021 before plummeting in 2022. For their advocates, cryptocurrencies represent a revolution of world-historical significance. To critics, crypto is more of a speculative tool than a true currency. How do tens of thousands of financial actors make these new monies? What forces give cryptocurrencies their value—or take it away? And what does crypto’s spectacular ascent reveal about the nature of money?
In this groundbreaking ethnographic analysis of crypto economies and their global markets and communities, Koray Caliskan offers an inside view of how cryptocurrencies are made and traded. He argues that cryptocurrency should be understood as “data money,” a historically novel money type, created as the right to send data privately over an accounting infrastructure called blockchain. Drawing on two years of fieldwork among global cryptocurrency communities and in crypto markets, Caliskan makes visible the production principles of cryptocurrencies and explores how crypto exchanges work from within. He explains why and how we have been misunderstanding, underregulating, and improperly taxing crypto exchanges and actors. He also proposes a radically new way to make sense of new finance and its actors. An invaluable book for all readers seeking to understand cryptocurrency, Data Money sheds new light on a profound transformation of finance and its possible future trajectories.