Well, if this was one of the intended outcomes of demonetisation it would have been welcome. The idea of community currencies and community sharing helps mitigate the pains of transacting in cash. However, as this was not the intention but we have seen some cases where these things have emerged. People have rallied for each other in some parts and tried to engage in some form of community currency as well.
Ashish Kothari in this piece points to how some people across the world have figured out life without fiat cash:
Demonetisation can actually contribute towards freeing ourselves from the shackles of governments, banks and corporations by helping us create more prosperous lives. But this is a very different kind of demonetisation.
On a recent visit to Beckerich, a commune in Luxembourg, I learnt about the beki, a community currency that has been in use since 2013. Equivalent to the euro in value, bekis can be used to pay for a host of local products and services – buying bread at the local baker, paying for local green energy, buying produce directly from farmers.
Max Hilbert, who facilitates the currency’s use for the commune, told me that the beki stimulates local production and services, and facilitates stronger local social relations as its use is based on knowing local producers and consumers.
Community or social currencies like the beki are increasingly being used across the world.
Launched in 2012, the Bristol pound in the city of Bristol, in England, is equivalent to the pound sterling in value and can be used to buy products and services at over 800 outlets in the city. Locals even use this currency to pay taxes, and the city’s former mayor, George Ferguson, took his entire salary in it. According to its website, the idea behind the Bristol pound was to boost local economic activity by “continual circulation of money within the local economy”.
Last month, in Spain, the city council of Barcelona introduced a pilot project to introduce a social currency, with euro parity, in a city district. The project is a bid to stimulate local businesses and will start in the new year.
There are several such examples from across the world.
There are also increasing initiatives for non-monetised exchange, such as sharing skills for free. In Athens, Greece, I met members of Mesopotamia, a network of about 400 individuals who are part of a time-sharing network. Several of them volunteer at a special learning centre for children.
In the UK, the network Spice Time Credits enables people to volunteer for activities that “strengthen communities” in exchange for credits that can be spent on an activity of their choice – including at theatres, museums and sports facilities – across the UK with partners of Spice Time Credits. At last count, the network has 25,000 members sharing over 4,00,000 hours, working with 1,200 organisations and services.
All this is just fascinating reading..