How do we design trauma-informed financial systems?
2022-07-23, 18:00–19:30, DNA 🧬

Our present discourse of trauma is commonly associated with significant events like war, sexual or physical violence - but there is a glaringly missing conversation about how living in other kinds of societal precariousness (like capitalism) affects our behaviours, attitudes and beliefs. This is also trauma, because trauma is not the event that happens to us, but the way we become psychologically organised around fear. I want to explore financial trauma as an example, and analyse its relationship with how it shows up in technological systems.

Despite most discourse about money being hyper-rational - 90% of all financial behaviours are made emotionally. Financial trauma is an experience shared near-universally by people regardless of income class - and is a critically under-explored topic when designing new systems.

There is so much potential in our new dreams of better technological systems - in decentralisation, Web3, in tech bringing better lives to people comparing to older exploitative models. However, if we don’t fundamentally understand how people psychologically interact with money, and how negative experiences have shaped our behaviour - we are not going to be able to create systems that promote the financial wellbeing we dream of.

In this workshop, I’ll be analysing what financial trauma is, how it impacts our behaviour, how it shows up in digital financial systems - and open up a conversation on how we design real ‘circuit breakers’ based on real holistic financial wellbeing.

Miholyn Soon is a Malaysian designer working on connecting principles of psychology and human needs and flourishing to frameworks of building technology. She has a social science and filmmaking background, and spent her life across Asia, Europe and the US. She is currently working on designing decentralised social technologies in Berlin.