Error 51: The Materiality of Point-of-Sale Credit Assessments

Karakaya M. F.

Critical Finance Studies Conference 2021, London, England, 6 - 08 September 2021, pp.1

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: London
  • Country: England
  • Page Numbers: pp.1


Error 51 is the error code for insufficient funds. Error 51 signals on a POS terminal to tell the seller that the card-holder has maxed out his credit limit or he is not creditworthy for the time being for the product about to be sold. Although a POS terminal has sped up the process, point-of-sale credit assessment is as old as human history. A seller always wants to build customer loyalty. Selling on credit has been one of the most significant services a seller could offer to succeed in his goal to build customer loyalty. A buyer always seeks for exceptional services attached to his regular buying. Buying on credit with dear terms has been one of the most significant services a buyer could find in his goal to get the most benefit out of buying. Hence the encounter between buyer and seller may lead a credit sale. However, the seller would want to evaluate the creditworthiness of the buyer to avoid the loss of a bad trade. Debt books of shoppers, sale forms of instalment sale firms and POS terminals are those market devices that enable the seller to assess the creditworthiness and the credit limit of the buyer. The material aspects of these market devices matter in the assessment processes. Debt book of shoppers records the routine shopping of customers. Hence, a rhythmic evaluation process leads seller to trust the customer on credit. It also determines a certain credit limit and credit restructuring terms for the customer. Sale form of an instalment sale firm makes a buyer answer definite questions that are weighted instantly. Hence, a clinical evaluation process leads seller to trust on the customer on credit. POS terminal calls the server of Credit Card Company to receive authorization for the credit sale. Hence, an algorithmic evaluation process leads seller to trust on his sale on a credit card. Based on interviews with relevant parties of credit sale transactions and published materials as well as literary works, this paper aims to open the black box of point-of-sale credit assessment processes by analysing the materiality of the market devices that enable credit assessment. Bridging the historical figurational analysis of Norbert Elias, and in situ encounter analysis of Erving Goffman with the emphasis on non-human actants of Actor Network Theory, the paper seeks for an alternative explanation of trust issue. This alternative explanation would deconstruct the grand narrative of the loss of trust in modern society.