Introduction

Money is a social construct, a human invention. We can redesign it to fulfil our needs.

What is conventional money?

Money is not a given. Although we are often not aware of it, the money we use is essentially a choice. Conventional money is created by commercial banks through debt issuance, which depend on interests and inflation to repay its inception at the first place. To function, the system established around conventional money requires structural economic growth that recklessly neglects the needs of people and the Earth’s biocapacity. This system does not work for people and the planet: alternatives ought to be considered.

What are community currencies?

Since money is man made, it can be reinvented to meet specific objectives within any kind of community, region or economic sector. Community currencies are economic, policy and social instruments, operating as supplement to conventional money, meant to address issues or problems that otherwise would remain unmet in the current money system. Community currencies can fulfil multiple purposes, including:

  • stimulate local economic development, by localising production and consumption,
  • build an active civil society,
  • stimulate voluntary work,
  • reduce costs to healthcare system,
  • encourage sustainable consumption and improve waste separation.

An ecosystem of community currencies

Community currencies can be designed and executed in a many different ways. They can take the form of reward programmes, investment schemes, card schemes, savings accounts or traditional banking products. They also assume various denominations depending on their scope. Here we categorise a few:

  • Social Currencies – time based currencies that value everyone’s contribution equally. These schemes reward people for contributing to their community and generally pursue socially inclusive goals.
  • Business Currencies – currencies seeking to stimulate trade between local businesses (B2B) and consumers (B2C). These typically aim to increase local production and consumption. Specifically, business currencies can take the form of local currencies or modern Barter or Trade Exchanges.
  • Green Currencies – schemes created for environmental purposes, stimulating citizens and consumers to commit to environmental sustainability and reduce domestic CO2 emissions. These powerful tools can engage and reward people to behave sustainably, for instance when using public transport, purchase local, fair, organic and seasonal products, switch to renewable energy, reduce and separate their domestic waste.

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