Vol. 25 (Issue 2) pp. 63-76

Understanding the recent dynamics of local currency initiatives in Switzerland

Christoph B. Stamm*

* Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada, Email: christoph.stamm@umontreal.ca


This paper investigates the recent local currency initiatives in Switzerland. These currencies are considered by their founders as a tool for a necessary socioecological transition. The study mobilizes the concept of grassroots social innovation and considers alternative currency clusters as a niche within the multi-level perspective of sustainability transitions. To challenge the dominant monetary regime, a local currency niche must acquire a certain strength which can be expressed in diffusion dynamics of four types: replication, scaling up, translation and innovative scope. A framework of these niche dynamics is used to analyze the emergence and diffusion of eight associative local currency schemes. Data for this multiple case study were collected via interviews, documentation and observation. Results show that the local currencies in Switzerland were created independently by small groups of people active in the ecological transition movement and the social and solidarity economy. Founders exchange among each other in a loose network, and more experienced actors support new projects with practical advice. In terms of business members and regular individual users, the currency associations have difficulties to reach a critical mass. What is more, support from public entities and more established actors is rather lukewarm. Despite collective efforts and a lot of enthusiasm, the influence of the currency niche remains therefore limited.


Local currency, complementary currency, grassroots innovation, diffusion, socioecological transition, Switzerland

Article Stamm

To cite this article: Stamm, C. (2021) ‘Understanding the recent dynamics of local currency initiatives in Switzerland’, International Journal of Community Currency Research Volume 25 (Issue 2) 63-76; http://www.ijccr.net; ISSN 1325-9547; DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2021.0015