Event: Guild of Independent Currencies: June Meetup


Date: 15th June 2015
Time: 9:30am to 5pm
Where: Exeter Quaker Meeting House. Wynards Lane EX2 4HU
Cost: £5 includes lunch and refreshments

The Guild of Independent Currencies has been created by the Bristol Pound (covered on sister site in 2013) to help others to launch their own independent currencies, supporting them through shared technology, best practice and with anything else they may need. Read more here: http://guildofindependentcurrencies.org/

bristol pound

(Covered on sister site in 2013) Bristol Pound director Chris Sunderland explains that “Most of the money spent in a city, leaves almost as soon as it’s spent. It goes up to the financial institutions and gets lost. What people can be sure of with Bristol Pounds is that they’re circulating in the city and that’s where they’ll stay.”

Around 650,000 Bristol Pounds are in circulation and more than 750 local businesses use the scheme. Inspired by Bristol Pound’s success, locations including Cardiff, Bath and Kingston are considering starting their own scheme. Local currencies also exist in Totnes, Stroud, Lewes and Brixton.

If you are interested in local currencies, thinking of setting one up in your local area or currently engaged in trying to make one work, then Exeter is the place to be at the moment. This September they will launch their own currency and preparations are in full swing, come and meet the team at our June Meet Up and find out how they are getting on.

Agenda (Draft)

We’re packing it in for a fun and informative day! All the information and help you need for your local scheme plus swap tips and stories about how you are making it happen.

9:30 Arrive, Coffee, Mingle
10:00 Welcome to conference from Exeter Pound, practical info
10:10 Keynote Chris Sunderland, Founder Director Bristol Pound CIC
10:30 Introductions and updates from currency schemes attending
11:00 Workshop: Community and trader engagement
11:30 Tea Break
12:00 Workshop: Institutional Engagement and Procurement
12:30 Workshop: Legal and Regulatory Issues, including Credit Union involvement
13:00 Lunch provided by Real Food Cooperative
14:00 Printed Currencies Presentation Brian Kenworthy, Orion Security Print
14:30 Workshop: Technical Developments
15:00 Open Space Discussions – topics to be decided throughout the day
16:30 Guild of Independent Currencies – Next steps
17:00 Close

Limited places available so don’t miss out by booking now!

Booking: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/meetup-june-2015-tickets-16875566273


A new citywide currency keeping money earned in city in the local economy

karen andy reeve pound

Above: Karen Leach from Localise West Midlands and Andy Reeve from Impact Hub Birmingham who have produced a currency note exclusive to Birmingham – see http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-could-next-city-launch-8810436.

They are planning to follow the model of the existing Bristol Pound, which is currently used by 782 firms and generates £1 million of business each year.

Karen Leach, coordinator at Localise West Midlands, said: “What normally happens is money leaves the area all the time because you spend money in an organisation that isn’t locally based and locally owned. Money is constantly sucked out like water down a big plughole from the local economy. That’s what we’re trying to stop.”

Since its creation more than two years ago, the Bristol Pound has become the UK’s largest rival to Sterling and the first city-wide currency. Brixton, Stroud, Totnes and Exeter have also introduced the scheme – and it is hoped the Birmingham Pound will repeat their success with independent businesses.

bristol poundThe Bristol Pound, a non-profit organisation, is regulated by the Bristol Credit Union and has received backing from Bristol City Council which has discussed plans to pay staff in the currency. Around a quarter of current Bristol Pound transactions are made using paper notes in £1, £5, £10 and £20 denominations while the rest are made electronically by mobile phone text messages or online. Read more here: Bristol Mayor chooses to be paid in Bristol Pounds.

Consultations on developing the idea will be made by a campaign group of local credit unions, trade organisations and businesses following an initial meeting last week.

Community currencies

There are local or community currencies in several British towns, including Bath, Stroud, Totnes, Calderdale, Bristol and Brixton – and in many countries around the world. The most recent reports have come from India and South Africa.

Jeremy Williams writes that with the financial system in disarray and the economic downturn, local currencies come into their own: “They are counter-cyclical: when the mainstream economy falters, the alternative economy soars . . . In times of recession, it is hard to generate new cash for investment, especially for local businesses or small initiatives. Alternative currencies can create new opportunities in the same way that banks do, but much more organically”.

bhopal coinShopkeepers in Bhopal, India, have floated their own currency. Faced with the shortage of Rs. 5 coins and undamaged notes, shopkeepers have introduced a plastic coin as a parallel currency – which they are willing to trade with.

A liquor shop proprietor in the market initiated the scheme which is supported by other shopkeepers selling snacks, stationery, eggs and other ‘edibles’. They accept the coin ‘issued’ by the liqour shop and after having collected five or 10 such coins, return them to the liquor shop and take Rs. 100 or Rs. 50 in lieu of these.

As the boy at the liquor shop counter hands over the coin to a customer, he would say “you can use it anywhere in five no market stop” before you could ask him any question. A person at the counter sits with a bag full of these plastic coins.

ora currency notesOn Radio 4 recently there was a report about Orania, a town in the northern Cape populated by white Afrikaners. They are working towards building a self-sufficient community.

Since 2004 they have used notes designed by a local artist, known as the ora, which can only be spent within the town. As in many other schemes the Afrikaners want to keep money in the local economy.

funny money david boyleDavid Boyle – in his book Funny Money – mentions a deli that wanted to move to a new premises. When the bank refused to lend the money they needed to do this, the deli owner invented his own currency – the ‘deli dollar’. A deli dollar was simply a voucher that could be redeemed later in the year. The owners sold $5000 worth of deli dollars to regulars, and created a loan for themselves from their customer base. As customers brought the vouchers in over the next year, the loan was re-paid in food.

His conclusion: though these currencies cannot do everything mainstream currencies do, they can be effective in many areas where dollars and pounds are simply not effective:

“They do not build communities, they do not respond to needs, they do not build families, they do not tackle poverty. Local money does, and for that reason, I believe it will work.”