The International Journal of Community Currency Research (IJCCR) has produced a special edition which details some of the recent developments in the field of complementary currencies. It contains fifteen short papers which encompass discussions of the wider field, geographic reviews and reports on new forms of currency innovation. The edition highlights the growing range of experiments and contexts within which complementary currencies are being mobilised to solve economic, social and environmental problems.
Note from the Editors: The State of the Art
Noel Longhurst and Gill Seyfang D i
Yet Another Moment of Truth
David Boyle D 1-3
Classifying ‘CCs’: Community, Complementary and Local Currencies
Jérôme Blanc Boyle D 4-10
Since the emergence of “CCs” thirty years ago, attempts to build typologies and to name things properly have always been disappointing, as if the very object of the analysis escaped from any rigid classification. Even the terms “complementary currency”, “community currency” and many others are not considered similarly; as a result, there is no common typology shared by scholars, activists and observers, beyond a series of general considerations clearly distinguishing specific items between CC schemes. This paper presents a novel attempt to classify and categorise CCs in a way which looks to future developments, while capturing the diversity of historical origins. The ideal types of community, complementary and local currencies let the possibility of combinations able to analyze concrete forms of non-national and not-for-profit currencies. The teleological exclusion of sovereignty and, more important, profit motives must be emphasized. The present typology states that for-profit currencies are of another nature than CCs, and it draws up an ideal-type of CCs built around a democratic participation principle organized around non-profit organizations, grassroots organizations or informal groupings of persons.
On The Money: Getting the message out
John Rogers D 11-16
Complementary and community currency systems have been started all over the world. There are a number of critical success factors, one of which is education. There are many important reasons for educating people about community currencies, including practical, economic, social, ecological, political and psychological ones. Key audiences for messages about community currencies are participants, designers, administrators and public decision makers. Promoters have adopted a range of strategies to educate people who design, use or support these systems: books & articles, design guides, research summaries, general advice & information, videos, conferences, webinars (internet seminars), internet discussion groups and training. More coordinated and strategic support of these efforts would enhance their effectiveness.
Complementary Currencies in Germany: The Regiogeld System
Christian Thiel D 17-21
In several places in Germany colourful slips of paper replace the Euro as a medium of exchange. These unofficial tenders German Regiogeld, a phenomenon which occurred around 2001 and spread rapidly all over Germany. It appears not only with different names but also in various forms. The article introduces this special complementary currency. It describes briefly – and from a sociological point of view – what it is, how it has originated, the actual status quo and possible future developments. It is based on my 4 year ethnographic research which was done in the context of a sociological dissertation. For this article one of my results is particular important: Regiogeld is a phenomenon which originated in the fusing of different movements, a money-reform- oriented, an esoteric and several regionalization- oriented.
What Have Complementary Currencies in Japan Really Achieved?
Yasuyuki Hirota D 22-26
Japan has been regarded from abroad as one of the most developed countries in terms of CC systems, depicted by Kennedy and Lietaer (2004) as “the country in the world with the most systems in operation today, but also the nation with the greatest diversity of such experiments.” However, this paper argues that the lack of literature about initiatives in languages other than Japanese has been a hurdle that has not allowed Western researchers to grasp the real picture. This article’s goal is to show the historical development of CC initiatives in this East-Asian country, revealing how the very concept of having another means of exchange for communities has been transformed over years by the unique interpretations and the conceptual manipulation of Japanese promoters and practitioners.
Alternative Exchange Systems in Contemporary Greece
Irene Sotiropoulou D 27-31
This paper is a brief report of several schemes that exist today, September 2010, in Greece and permit their members to perform transactions without any official currency. The report covers parallel currency schemes, exchange networks and several related initiatives that could be characterised as alternative exchange or non-mainstream modes of economic activity.
Complementary Currencies for Sustainable Local Economies in Central America
Erik Brenes D 32-38
After more than a decade of researching, implementing and supervising complementary currencies projects in the region, the Social Trade Organisation Central America (STRO-CA) has accumulated many lessons learnt and developed complementary currency methods along with strategies to stimulate its circulation, but most of all to create stable, diversified and resilient local economies in the cities where projects are in research, execution and/or supervision. This report introduces the STRO-CA approach to complementary currency development, and reflects on ten years of currency innovation and development in Central America.
Community Currency Progress in Latin America (Banco Palmas)
Christophe Place D 39-46
After losing its lawsuit against a community bank issuing a community currency, the Central Bank of Brazil has just started a cooperation agreement with the National Secretary for Solidarity Economy of the Labour Ministry of Brazil to support and develop the current 51 community banks and their own social currency in order to reach about 300 by 2012, becoming an exemplary model. This world premiere central bank support associated with one of the highest amount of community currency systems of Latin America brought Brazil as a significant site of experimentation in this field. Furthermore, some daring innovations seem to confirm this position in a long-term future unless this normative control of a centralized institution decreases the creativity. Indeed, sustainable economic orientation still needs creative tools, associated to an ethical vision, to decrease material consumption dependence and increase post-materialist values exchange: community currency transformation to an effective grassroots innovation for sustainability, prosperity and democracy seems to be necessary.
L’Accorderie and Le Jardin Universel (JEU) in Quebec
Mathieu Lizotte and Gérard Duhaime D 47-51
This paper compares two of the most successful community currency systems in the province of Quebec, Canada: l’Accorderie and Le Jardin d’Echange Universel (JEU). The paper compares their founding principles and organisational structures, and their mechanisms and mediums of exchange. While the former is quite well-institutionali sed and attempts to operate professionally, ‘within the system’, the latter is a volunteer-run initiative with more ambiguous status. The paper attempts to evalute their impacts, where data is available, and concludes that while both exchange systems have their pros and cons, a definite advantage for l’Accorderie is that its legal status gives them better access to funding which ultimately permits them to offer their members the means by which to form an economic strategy in both the informal economy, through exchanges, and in the formal economy, through microcredit and participating in the monthly buyer’s group. This is particularly important to its poorer members where every dollar saved by making local exchanges can be used to improve their material well-being in the formal economy.
Kékfrank to Boost the Resilience of Locality
Zsuzsanna Eszter Szalay D 52-56
A small group of entrepreneurs in Sopron (Hungary), led by Tamás Perkovátz, decided in autumn of 2008, to make the local economy - which was previously famous for its grape and wine - prosper again, and to unite the economies of the area cut into three parts, belonging to three different countries. Thus they created an European Cooperative Society (SCE), that had individuals and legal entities from Hungary, Austria and Croatia as members, and the goal of the Cooperative was defined as to introduce and operate a complementary currency Kékfrank (blue franc, named for a wine variety), to be used within the region. This paper presents the European Union directives and regulations that made the creation of Kékfrank possible and finally it shows the main characteristics and possible further developments of the new currency which was born in spring of 2010 through the first official exchange.
The SOL: A Complementary Currency for the Social Economy and Sustainable Development
Marie Fare D 57-60
This paper reviews experience with The SOL, a very innovative and interesting complementary currency scheme which has been tested in France since 2007. It aims to contribute to the development of the social and solidarity economy, and contribute towards sustainable development. The SOL is the result of an informal working group who in 1998 examinedthe different models of existing complementary currencies schemes in the world. It aims to both introduce a new concept of wealth not exclusively based on money and to foster the social economy or third sector. Three different types of SOL are described: Co-operation SOL, Commitment SOL, and Dedicated SOL, and the paper reflects on the currency’s strengths and weaknesses, and developmental issues for the future.
Building Local Resilience: The emergence of the UK Transition Currencies
Josh Ryan-Collins D 61-67
This paper examines the emergence of a new type of local currency – ‘Transition Currencies’ - in the United Kingdom over the past 4 years. The Transition Currency ‘model’, shared by the initial four schemes, is explained and the theoretical roots of the schemes reviewed. The paper goes on to examine the success and limitations of the currencies and reflects on potential future developments and how the Transition currencies might upscale and deliver additional social, economic and environmental objectives.
A Report from Vermont (USA): The VBSR Marketplace
Amy Kirschner D 68-72
This paper described and evaluates a peer to peer mutual credit system now in operation in the State of Vermont. It is called the VBSR Marketplace and is an innovative partnership between a statewide membership association, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) and a currency design and management organization, Vermont Sustainable Exchange (VSE). This project is a significant step forward in the community currency world as it makes participation in a mutual credit system a membership benefit for businesses that belong to an already existing and well-established business association.
Time Banking in Social Housing
Ruth Naughton-Doe D 73-76
A social enterprise Spice has pioneered a new method of time banking that works with public services in an innovative way. Spice uses time banking as a ‘means to an end tool’ to promote active citizenship, reduce welfare dependency and ultimately reform public services with co-production. This article briefly examines current time banking practices in the UK to set the scene for a discussion of Spice’s approach when applied in Social Housing. Whilst in its early stages, the approach demonstrates some success in increasing participation and improving both individual and community well-being. This is an exciting new use of community currencies to catalyse public sector reform.
The Colours of Money: Artmoney as Community Currency
Mark Banks D 77-81
Artmoney is a community currency based on the production and exchange of original art. Critical of the cold and objective nature of conventional transactions, the Danish artist Lars Kraemmer first devised artmoney as a means to a more humanised and expressive type of monetary exchange, intending to bring people together in affective, rather than impersonal, forms of trade. Artmoney provides a means of stimulating trade amongst artists and non-artists outside of the conventional money economy, and has grown steadily to become a global currency traded in over 70 countries. Drawing from ongoing research, this article asks, what is the meaning and value of art-money in a global cultural economy? What alternative does it present and what economic futures (or pasts) does it anticipate? Presenting preliminary findings from interview research with art-money producers, this article outlines some of the motives for becoming involved in this art/currency project, and some of the contradictions and challenges raised in its production and circulation.
Complementary Currency Open Source Software in 2010
Matthew Slater D 82-87
This report briefly covers the field of non-commercial mutual credit software, discussing the issues and challenges the projects collectively face in meeting the needs of the movement. There is a clear cultural divide between commercial barter software which helps businesses exchange spare capacity within the law, and free open source projects which help neighbours to exchange under the radar of the tax man. There is almost no cross-fertilisation between nonprofit, idealistic, community projects, and the business barter. The aims of both cultures are very different, though their methods are similar.