LONDON, June 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
Following the 2008 financial crash, interest in different currency systems has steadily grown. Barcelona's newly elected mayor recently expressed an interest in creating a local currency and similar proposals are being developed as a means for Greece to both beat austerity and remain within the Eurozone.
Making new money
Such developments indicate that awareness of the economic, social and environmental benefits of community currencies is spreading. But what are the legal implications of creating new currency systems?
Community Currencies in Action (CCIA), part-funded by the EU, has recently published a series of legal and compliance guides covering relevant legislation in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Freely downloadable from http://communitycurrenciesinaction.eu/toolkit-legal-and-compliance/, these booklets inform policy-makers and practitioners who are looking to set up a community currency system of any legal issues they might face. Subjects covered include the legality of issuing paper notes, applicability of tax law and employment and social security requirements.
How to create a new currency
The CCIA project has produced a range of guides for setting up a currency system. These include:
- People Powered Money: designing, developing and delivering community currencies, a pragmatic guide for anyone looking to get a currency project up and running. It covers benefits for local businesses, public services, social inclusion and environment.
- Community Currencies: opportunities and challenges for local government, which advises on how currency systems can be utilised to achieve government policy objectives.
- Money with a Purpose, which assesses the economic, environmental and social impact of community currency projects. It summarises empirical evidence base and identifies areas for further research.
- No Small Change, which provides guidance on how to evaluate the impact of community currency projects. It aims to help practitioners demonstrate and improve the effectiveness of their projects.
These guides, along with information on CCIA pilot currencies, can be downloaded for free from CCIA's website, ccia.eu
What is a community currency?
Community currencies come in many shapes and sizes, but all fundamentally aim to stimulate certain kinds of social and economic interaction in order to achieve a desired outcome for the community of users. CCIA worked with six currency programmes across northwest Europe:
- Spice Time Credits (UK): volunteers earn a credit for each hour they contribute to community projects. Credits can then be spent on activities such as gym sessions, theatre performances, football matches and higher education courses. It has been extremely effective in improving users' wellbeing and increasing volunteer participation.
- Brixton Pound (UK): functioning just like Pound Sterling and set up to support local independent businesses, the Brixton Pound has given rise to a range of secondary benefits, such as increasing pride in the area and the introduction of innovative 'pay by text' system.
- The Makkie (Netherlands): similar to Spice Time Credits, the Makkie is a time-based currency designed to tackle inequality. Earned through volunteering for local projects, the Makkie can be spent in several ways, including on goods from the local supermarket, performances by the Dutch National Symphony Orchestra and community support projects.
- TradeQoin (Netherlands): a fully digital business-to-business trading scheme supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing interest-free credit and stimulating exchange between members.
- SoNantes (France): similar to TradeQoin, this currency allows individual residents in the Nantes region to participate by spending the currency on selected public services and goods from participating businesses.
- E-Portemonnee (Belgium): a digital reward scheme incentivising environmentally friendly behaviour. Points are earned by, for example, recycling waste and can be spent on a range of sustainable products.
Part-funded by the EU, CCIA is a transnational partnership project designing, developing and implementing community currencies across northwest Europe. The partnership provides a rigorously tested package of support structures to facilitate the development of currency initiatives across NWE, promoting them as credible policy vehicles. In addition to the publications listed above, CCIA has created http://www.community-currency.info, the most comprehensive source of information available online.
SOURCE CCIA (www.ccia.eu)