Those working towards a coalition for a better economy will take note of the initiative by the Bristol Pound Community Interest Company (CIC), which is expected – in May – to launch its own bank notes with which traders in the city will be able to pay their business taxes. The project has been inspired by the Brixton Pound, which was launched in 2009 and introduced an e-currency and pay-by-text option last year, but is the first city-wide effort of its kind.
The Bristol pound, supported by the Liberal Democrat-led city council, will be accepted tender in the city by businesses that sign up to the project. Notes of £1, £5, £10 and £20 denominations will be issued. More than 100 local firms have already signed up to the currency.
The council’s pay-roll scheme will offer 17,000 staff the option of having a small part of their salaries paid using Bristol pounds and the council, in turn, is investigating which services it can procure using the new currency.
The plan to encourage local trading
The plan is to encourage more local trading – as the pounds will only be accepted by other shops or businesses in the city – and so keep the money created in Bristol circulating within the city.
Mr Mundy said: “If you spend £10 in a supermarket, 8 of those 10 pounds have gone out of the local economy because so few of the items on sale are sourced locally. But if you spend your money in a local baker’s, for example, and they source their supplies locally, then that helps to keep wealth within the area.”
A person or business opening an account with CIC will deposit sterling and be credited with an equal number of Bristol pounds. This money can either be cashed, or used electronically to pay bills online or via a mobile phone.
A protective guarantee
The organisers say that – because the credit union is regulated by the Financial Services Authority – Bristol Pound deposits will enjoy the same protection as an ordinary bank account.