Banking, Finance, Digitalisation and Uneven Spatial Development

Over the past two decades, financial innovation and regulatory changes have reshaped the operational landscape of the financial sector with implications for local financial markets and access to finance. ICT innovations shape and continuously transform the way financial institutions operate, be it by fintech firms and platform-based business models, or innovations in the internal organisation of banks (e.g. rating and scoring systems, online banking, credit factories) and other financial players (e.g. high frequency trading, neo-brokering). This technological transformation has raised fundamental questions relating to physical ‘buyer-supplier’ proximity versus virtual proximity as a bridge for information asymmetries in banking and finance.

This special session aims to bring together interdisciplinary research on spatial perspectives around the finance-economic development debate, taking a non-exclusive focus on digitalisation. Studies exploring geographical dimensions of the supply and demand for financial capital remain underdeveloped and the research community tends to be fragmented. Geographical perspectives regarding the operation and organisation of financial systems are still rare in regional development debates. Likewise, financial geographies seldom address questions of regional and national economic development. Dow (1999) calls for closer attention on the role of financial institutions, their geographical management and administrative structures in the evolution of the economic landscape. A call that has lost none of its timeliness in these (pandemic) times of accelerating digital transformations.

Against this background, we welcome empirical and conceptual contributions from various research traditions on topics such as: