Professor Maurer is a cultural anthropologist and sociolegal scholar. His most recent research looks at how professional communities (payments industry professionals, computer programmers and developers, legal consultants) conceptualize and build financial technology or “fintech,” and how consumers use and experience it. More broadly, his work explores the technological infrastructures and social relations of exchange and payment, from cowries to credit cards and cryptocurrencies. As an anthropologist, he is interested in the broad range of technologies people have used throughout history and across cultures to figure value and conduct transactions.
He is the Director of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (www.imtfi.uci.edu). In that capacity, he coordinates research in over 40 countries on how new payment technologies impact people’s wellbeing. Currently, he is editing The Cultural History of Money, in six volumes, covering antiquity to the present. His research has had an impact on US and global policies for mobile payment and financial access, and it has been been discussed in venues ranging from Bloomberg BusinessWeek to NPR’s Marketplace and the Financial Times. He serves on the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences of the US National Research Council, recently received a grant from the US National Science Foundation for a new project on blockchain technology and the law, and consulted with the Department of Treasury on the redesign of the US paper currency. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received his BA from Vassar College and his MA and PhD from Stanford University.
He has particular expertise in emerging, alternative and experimental forms of money and finance, payment technologies, and their legal implications. He has published on topics ranging from offshore financial services to mobile phone-enabled money transfers, Islamic finance, alternative currencies, blockchain/distributed ledger systems and their implications for money and law, and the future of money. He was the founding co-director of the Intel Science and Technology Center in Social Computing.