Platform Works as Stack Economization: Cryptocurrency Markets and Exchanges in Perspective
Keywords:Cryptocurrency, Blockchain , Money , Market , Platform
What is an economic platform? I address this question by focusing on the case of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. The research draws on interviews with platform actors, fieldwork in one exchange, and computational text analysis of the terms of service of all cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. I argue that cryptocurrency exchange platforms go beyond market processes by fulfilling a variety of functions including banking, infrastructure development, gift-giving, barter, money making, payment system operation, software production, security providing, and centralized extra-blockchain accounting. I propose the concept of “stack” to describe such a process of socio-digital economization that takes place in these data money exchanges. Demonstrating that it is inadequate to describe platforms as mere digital infrastructures, devices, places or markets, I argue that cryptocurrency exchange platforms can best be understood as economization stacks that weave multiple layers and types of interaction, and facilitate an empirically observable range of variegated economic activities.
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