The Cost of Culture: An Analysis of Cash App and the Financial Inclusion of Black American Communities

Cunningham, Jay; Nguyen, Sydney; Kientz, Julie; Rosner, Daniela
DIS '22: Designing Interactive Systems Conference

Mobile banking applications have become a primary mode of sharing and managing financial resources. However, prior work has questioned its role in serving Black communities amid legacies of structural racial inequity. To investigate this critical topic, we conducted a 30-day diary study with 21 participants and an interview study with 15 participants, all Black American users of the mobile payment platform Cash App. We observed that addressing hurdles to financial inclusion requires the navigation of institutional distrust, banking barriers, and financial literacy disparities. Our findings suggest that Black Americans persist and navigate contemporary financial systems through legacies of social and cultural capacities. We offer grounded-truth considerations for the continued design of fin-tech that could have equitable impact among historically marginalized communities. Reflecting on the tenor of financial services to lack empathy, we urge designers and scholars of financial technology to reflect on their power to promote racial justice and financial inclusion.