** Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe
The goal of this paper is to propose an open platform for secure and interoperable virtual community currencies. We follow the established information systems design-science approach to develop a prototype that aims to combine best practices for building mutual-credit community currencies with the unique features of blockchain technology. The result is a specification of an open Internet platform that enables users to join and to host customized community currencies. The hosted currencies can be classified as credit-based future type of money with decentralized issuance. Furthermore, we describe how the transparency, security and interoperability properties of blockchain technology offer a solution to the inherent problems of existing, centrally operated community currency software. The characteristics of the prototype and its ability to fulfil the design-objectives are examined by a relative evaluation against existing payment and currency systems like Bitcoin, LETS and M-Pesa.
To cite this article: Friis, G. and Glaser, F. (2018) ‘Extending Blockchain Technology to host Customizable and Interoperable Community Currencies’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 2018 Volume 22 (Summer) 71-84 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2018.017
The Mutual Credit Currency System, this most radical form of endogenous money, was evaluated and compared with Marx’s Commodity-Money-Commodity requirement. A simple simulation of a small community closed loop economy was used to illustrate the functioning of two types of mutual credit currency systems. The first, dubbed MCSG, behaved according to the specifications and recommendations of the mutual credit currency system’s founding fathers, Riegel and Greco. The second, dubbed the Komoko Monetary System, or abbreviated to KMS, was a sub-type of the mutual credit currency system with some additional restrictions and one additional liberty. The main restriction introduced in the KMS was that it almost exclusively supported the exchange of only newly produced goods and services. The liberty introduced is forecast-based credit allocation. It was shown that the MCSG has an inconsistency that could potentially lead to instability. The restrictions applied within the KMS can provide a remedy for this potential flaw, while at the same time rendering the KMS compliant with Marx’s requirement. The monetary control measures applicable in KMS were discussed, which guarantee robustness and stability and make KMS a true complement to the official fractional reserve banking.
Complementary currencies are developing all around the world, taking various forms (material or immaterial) and fulfilling various functions. They are frequently introduced in order to promote local economy development and to fight against social exclusion. In this paper, we analyze the particular case of virtual currency circulation inside a local community of unemployed people. We elaborate a model on the assumptions that the organization of LETS and the circulation of complementary currencies have two properties: (i) they help unemployed workers to overcome the double coincidence of want necessity of an informal sector founded on barter exchange; (ii) they contribute to maintain and develop unemployed workers’ skills and employability. We study the global properties of a job market associating traditional short-term and long-term unemployment to the organization of LETS. Using a search theoretic model, we find that the initial level of trust of agents in the complementary currency(cies) but also the effective properties of this(ese) currency(cies) inside the LETS are crucial for LETS to survive and become permanent. We also find that if the stationary equilibrium of the job-market includes LETS, then LETS have a positive influence on the rate of employment, on the expected utility of employed workers, and are Pareto improving when the benchmark case is a job market without any LETS.
To cite this article: Della Peruta, M. and Torre, D., (2015) ‘Virtual social currencies for unemployed people: social networks and job market access’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 19 (Summer) 31-41 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2015.004
Groups involved in complementary currencies (CC’s) that push for an interchange between their member-currencies are not yet a favourite subject in the existing CC-grassroots movement. One reason could be the existing doubts of activists that such structures might be non-transparent, support instability, raise corruption or be a gate for the comeback of the ruling system of limitless inequality. On the other side, an interchange could open bigger markets, add more diversity or raise the number of participants above a critical number for long term survival. The authors present the case of the region of Zurich, Switzerland, where a council of different CC-organizations was founded. As a result a new software platform cc-hub was developed to bundle regional LET systems. The platform is based on the open source Online Banking software, Cyclos, and covers many possible needs of a regionally or purpose-linked network of CC’s. It is able to support interchange, improve the efficiency of clearing and help to build up the necessary resilience for long term stability. It could serve as a model for cooperation between small neighbouring CC’s, for organizational improvement and additional economical benefit. But to verify such benefits will be a subject of further research.
Lucas Huber and Jens Martignoni
To cite this article: Huber, L. and Martignoni, J. (2013) ‘Improving Complementary Currency Interchange By A Regional Hub-Solution’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 17 (A) 1-7 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2013.001
This paper gives information about Local Exchange Trade Systems in the region of former Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary. The transition to a market economy proceeded in different ways in these countries, but similar histories in the last century (communism under Soviet influence) led to only small differences among the countries in the level of motivation and power of their civil societies – and subsequently, in the vitality of LETS circles. In the Czech Republic, the first LETS circle was established in 1999; however, none is active at present. Similarly, in the Slovak Republic, out of 10 to 15 LETS circles formed between 2000 and 2005, only one works at the present time. LETS in Poland developed in the early 90’s but soon declined even though a few groups are still active today. LETS in Hungary was very passive, but there have been new signs and initiatives since 2004. The possible reasons for such LETS developments in the so-called Visegrad countries are also discussed in this paper.
Jelínek P., Szalay Zs. and Konečný A
To cite this article: Jelínek P., Szalay Zs. and Konečný A. (2012) ‘Local Exchange Trading Systems in Central European post-Communist Countries’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (D) 116-123 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2012.018
In this paper, we have compared concentrated creation of money with dispersive creation of money, and try to show, by using the results of computer simulation, the advantage of the method of dispersive money creation embodied into LETS in comparison with concentrated money creation. However, both ways of money creation have particular merits and demerits. We also estimate the effect of different rules for restricting the upper limits of debits of all participants in LETS on the rate of realized transactions in order to prevent free riding. First, we give an overview of LETS. Second, we show, using a computer simulation, the advantage of the method of dispersive money creation compared to concentrated money creation. Finally, we have demonstrated the validity of the ‘transaction indexation method’ to set the rules of determining the upper limit of debits in LETS to avoid free riding and to enhance transaction efficiency
To cite this article: Kichiji, N. and Nishibe, M. (2012) ‘A comparison in transaction efficiency between dispersive and concentrated money creation’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (D) 49-57 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2012.011
In 2007, the Dutch municipality of Landgraaf requested an investigation into whether a community currency could support its anti-poverty policies. The literature research assembled empirical data on scrip, LETS and Time Banks. Their effects were evaluated against a set of specific goals: poverty relief, provision of care, social integration and return of long-term unemployed to the labour market. Complementary currencies have still to prove themselves on all objectives, and the last one is particularly hard to achieve. However, for the most part, the systems being investigated have not been set up in a professional way or with longer-term finances available. With these prerequisites in place, and a formal, trustworthy organisation taking the initiative, a complementary currency could still be a useful policy instrument. A Time Bank-like construction would work best, with a professional broker and a limited working area.
To cite this article: van Kuik, M. (2009) ‘Time for Each Other: Working Towards a Complementary Currency Model to Serve the Anti-Poverty Policies of the Municipality of Landgraaf, the Netherlands’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 13 3-18 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2009.002
The intention underlying this short intervention is to raise questions about the objectives of LETS and what activists are seeking to achieve in their LETS development work. The argument in this paper is that there is a need for those active in developing LETS to critically reflect on what they are seeking to achieve and only then will the role of LETS become clearer.
To cite this article: Taylor, G. (2003) ‘A Currency for Change? one activist’s personal view of LETS’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 7 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2003.002
Community currencies have been put forward as a grassroots solution to the problems of social exclusion and the need for active communities, and are gaining policy support. LETS has been the most common form of community currency in the UK for the last 10 years. Time banks (based on the Time Dollar idea from USA) represent the next generation, providing service brokering and equality of labour to overcome many of the obstacles faced by LETS. This paper presents the first research into time banks in the UK and reviews their origins, growth and development, and their ability and potential to tackle social exclusion. The reciprocal learning from LETS to time banks is discussed, along with possible future development paths for community currencies. Time banks have been successful in attracting members from socially excluded groups, and have become established in mainstream health and community development settings. Remaining obstacles include the need for sustainable funding, to grow and widen their scope, and for policy changes to provide a more supportive framework.
To cite this article: Seyfang, G. (2002) ‘Tackling social exclusion with community currencies: learning from LETS to Time Banks’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 6 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2002.002
This paper analyses theoretically how the Mutual Credit System (MCS) is affected by the Commons Problem. The MCS is defined as a pure accounting system of exchange, of which the Local Exchange and Trading System is a real life example. The Commons problem is caused by the incentive of members to issue units without the intention to repay this ‘debt’. This can potentially cause an MCS to collapse. It is found that eight institutional design principles for overcoming the Commons problem can also be applied to the MCS. Moreover, the dynamic interaction of economically motivated members of the MCS is analysed. This yields the conclusion that the MCS can provide a robust and stable alternative to the Central Money Supply System, whilst preserving its important special feature of an endogenous supply of money.
To cite this article: Schraven, J. (2001) ‘Mutual Credit Systems and the Commons Problem: Why Community Currency Systems such as LETS Need Not Collapse Under Opportunistic Behaviour’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 5 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2001.002
Despite declarations that the third sector is to play a prominent role in paving a Third Way, there remains much confusion about what constitutes this Third Way and the role of the third sector in bringing it about. Evaluating Local Exchange and Trading Schemes (LETS) as a prominent third sector initiative, the aim of this paper is to analyse its effectiveness in fulfilling various roles being assigned to it. This reveals that although many view the role of the third sector in paving a Third Way to lie in its ability to create jobs and improve employability in order to achieve ‘full-employment’, these initiatives are most effective at facilitating community self-help and thus means of livelihood beyond employment. We thus conclude that for the third sector to be used effectively and the Third Way to become a distinct and radical departure from the past, there will need to be a shift from both an ’employment-ethic’ to a ‘work ethic’ and a ‘full-employment’ to a ‘full-engagement’ vision.
Colin C Williams, Theresa Aldridge, Roger Lee, Andrew Leyshon, Nigel Thrift and Jane Tooke Volume 5(2001) 3
To cite this article: Williams, C.; Aldridge, T.; Lee, R.; Leyshon, A.; Thrift, N.; Tooke, J. (2001) ‘The Role of the Third Sector in Paving a ‘Third Way’: Some Lessons From Local Exchange and Trading Schemes (LETS) in the United Kingdom’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 5 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2001.003
A comparative analysis of LETS and Time Dollars seeks to identify their distinctive strengths and shortcomings, makes a plea for collaboration. The piece argues that most of the differences stem from their purpose: LETS is seeking to create an alternative economy to market; Time Dollars are seeking to rebuild what is termed the Core Economy, rooted in family, extended family, neighbors and civil society. While both seek to build community and counter the external costs of the global economy, LETS seeks to do so by returning the world of commerce to a local basis, while Time Dollars expressly seeks to do so by rebuilding the Core Economy, purged of the elements of subordination, discrimination and exploitation that characterized the functioning of that economy in the past. Both have important contributions to make and the challenge is to make sure that future relationships are in cooperation rather than competition.
One of the most contentious aspects of the debate about Local Exchange and Trading Systems (LETS) concerns the benefit system. Whereas other nations have amended the rules of their social security systems in order to facilitate participation in LETS, this has not been the case in the UK. This article is based upon a short, pilot project conducted at the turn of the millennium. It involved a series of interviews with LETS members and with national politicians who had publicly expressed an interest in LETS because of the benefit implications, whether real or perceived. We found evidence of claimants either not joining LETS or, of those who did join or became claimants whilst belonging to a LETS, keeping their LETS-related activities at a modest level. LETS members are clear that the benefit system must change to accommodate their needs and interests.
To cite this article: Fitzpatrick, T. (2000) ‘LETS and Benefit Claiming in the UK: Results of a Pilot Project’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 4 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2000.002
This paper sets out to describe and analyse Local Exchange and Trading Systems (LETS) in economic terms. A LETS performs three main functions: the provision of transaction management services, credit, and market matching. LETS is an alternative form of money. A LETS is in (economic) theory attractive because: it provides cheap and flexible credit; allows the marketing of labour time in small disperse quantities without the need for an employer or capital; and, because its money function is locally contained, it can potentially alleviate some of the welfare implications of external shocks and structural interregional trade-imbalances. This feature operates through reviving local exchange of non-tradables by providing a medium of exchange. Unfortunately, current research does not provide a good basis for testing the validity of these potential functions of LETS because LETS is a heterotopia, of which the membership is neither representative of the population, nor primarily economically motivated.
Modern domestic barter systems are operating in Australia and other high income countries at the local community level, and at the national level for business exchanges. These exchange regimes appear to have become institutionalised in a macro-marketing system that is organised on the primacy of market exchange based on price as the co-ordinating device. This points to widespread imperfections in various markets at the local level, and in particular, in markets for credit and labour. In this paper, the nature of Australian community-based LETSystems is discussed and some results from a national survey in Australia of LETS members are presented. The interface between LETSystems, the federal taxation system and the social security system in Australia is introduced.
To cite this article: Liesch, P.W.; Birch, D. (2000) ‘Community-based LETSystems in Australia: Localised Barter in a Sophisticated Western Economy’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 4 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2000.005
The literature dealing with LETS has regarded them primarily as economic associations and, in so doing, may have overlooked other features of LETS that are equally important. This paper aims to rectify some of that neglect by focusing upon the motivational values of LETS members. Whilst it has been recognised that a significant proportion of their membership can be identified as ‘Green’, the radical consequences of this membership has been neither fully recognised nor explored. This paper offers a taxonomy that enables us to locate and classify members’ motivations and does so with particular reference to Green ideals. It argues that to dismiss LETS as simply an expression of an alternative lifestyle may ignore the fact that a significant proportion of members are aware of, and wish to promote, the radical Green potential of these schemes. Given the current lack of practical Green alternatives within social policy this potential should not go unrecognised and the paper is presented as an attempt to open up areas for further debate.
To cite this article: Caldwell, C. (2000) ‘Why Do People Join Local Exchange Trading Systems?’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 4 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2000.006
France has one of the highest number of functioning LETS of all advanced economies. Based on a recent survey of LETS in France, the aim of this paper is to both provide an overview of the structure and nature of LETS in this country and to investigate whether these experiments are new ways of constructing sociability and/or whether they are more intended as political utopias. The finding is that LETS are vehicles that enable transfers to take place in social spaces which have the power to negate the official monetary economy by transforming exchange in symbolic social and political ways.
To cite this article: Laacher, S. (1999) ‘Nouvelles formes de sociabilités ou les limites d’une utopie politique’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 3 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.1999.002
To cite this article: Williams, C.; Aldridge, T.; Lee, R.; Leyshon, A.; Thrift, N.; Tooke, J. (1998) ‘Evaluating LETS as a Means of Tackling Social Exclusion and Cohesion’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 2 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.1998.002
Research from New Zealand, Australia and the UK has shown that LETSystems in many instances are dominated by “greens”. This paper presents the results from a survey of four Norwegian LETSystems. The findings show that the situation in these LETSystems is, to a large extent, similar. Members are generally politically radical, and seem to have joined LETS primarily for environmental/ideological reasons. Most have full-time employment, are rather well off in economic terms, and a vast majority have university education. The paper concludes that although such a biased membership profile theoretically hinders full achievement of the aims of LETS, it may be a necessary first step towards more widespread success.
To cite this article: Gran, E. (1998) ‘Green Domination In Norwegian LETSystems: Catalyst For Growth Or Constraint On Development?’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 2 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.1998.003
A LETS can be described as a non-profit community based trading network that operates by way of a locally created currency, i.e. a locally recognised measure of exchange value as distinct from national currency. LETS’ emergence in the 1980’s, and rapid growth throughout English speaking countries in the 1990’s (Williams 1995), arguably stems from experienced scarcity of money in local communities. According to Jackson (1994), it is primarily a product of developed nations ‘where money has assumed dominance as the medium for exchange’. Considered in the context of contemporary economic developments, LETS also invites regard as localised responses to the globalisation of capital. It was with an eye to the latter, that I undertook this exploration of eight LETS groups in Victoria, Australia.
To cite this article: Ingleby, J. (1998) ‘Local Economic Trading Systems: Potentials for New Communities of Meaning: a brief exploration of eight LETSystems, with a focus on decision making’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 2 ISSN 1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.1998.004