‘Full Money’ (Vollgeld in German) is similar to the 100% Money proposal, in that the direct link between money and credit is broken and the power to create new money is invested solely in the central bank. Assuming “the monetary system is unmistakably part of the common legal order” and not just “the operation of private business interests” (Huber 1998: 14), private money creation should be stopped. There is one difference, in that Full Money proposes no mandatory reserves, because Full Money itself represents central bank money and is not created as commercial bank money backed by 100% reserves. In the 100% Money system, customers at commercial banks can still demand central bank money in certain cases, whereas Full Money created directly by the central bank is already fully valid as money. Thus for Huber the Full Money proposal represents a restoration of the ‘seigniorage’ power of government to create its own money without borrowing from private banks. Bank deposit money is treated the same as cash:

Full Money means full value legal tender currency that may be used and accepted as the generally accepted means of exchange. Full Money is issued by the independent state central bank or a similar public body. (Huber 2012: 39)

Essentially the promoters of Full Money argue the system of monetary controls instituted by central banks is no longer working because of rapid technical developments in the creation of bank credit. They demand a readjustment to today’s realities. In order to effectively be able to control the creation of money, the central bank must be able to control money creation from the start.” (Binswanger 2012: 24). In particular, a form of non-cash money, in other words current accounts at banks, should be treated the same as cash. The goal is to bring an end to commercial bank money in favour of central bank money, along the same lines as the 19th century reforms, when private banknotes were replaced by central bank notes. (Huber 2012: 37).
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Negative interest, circulation incentive, demurrage, money holding costs – all these terms describe the same idea: holding onto money will (and should) have costs. The term ‘negative interest’ is popular but imprecise: for interest is actually due when one lends money. So long as deposits at the European or Swiss Central Bank cost money, the term is appropriate: in that case a commercial bank lends the central bank money. In the case of cash, the term is not so apt because holding cash is not the same as lending cash. With cash, the idea of a charge to encourage circulation is better. “Demurrage” is also a term used in shipping: demurrage is the charge paid for keeping goods in storage, which a shipper needs to pay as long as a ship is in harbor and takes up room that other ships could be using. This principle is meant to transfer the money holding costs onto the money itself: the currency should circulate in the economy and there should be a price for taking it out of circulation.

Model of a sustainable money system beyond the growth imperative? The Swedish JAK Bank has been offering interest-free savings, loans and banking services since 1965, with the aim of enabling an interest-free economy. More than 38,000 members of the cooperative bank save with interest-free savings accounts and can thus borrow money from the general fund for the cost of the administration fees only. The principle is simple: when savers forego income from interest, they also do not need to pay interest when they take a loan. Savings and loans are directly connected in the JAK system through this principle and the bank also encourages its members to have an active dialogue about this. The exponential effects of compound interest that are seen by many monetary critics as one of the most significant systemic causes of the redistribution of wealth and of the pressure for economic growth are circumvented by the JAK bank in a unique way. Their secret recipe: in place of interest there is the principle of complementary ‘savings points’, one of the JAK bank’s ingenious and highly developed processes of liquidity and time planning.

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The savings and loans model of the JAK Members’ Bank: savings, loans, amortizing – all without interest.

The first concrete steps towards creating the JAK bank model were taken in the middle of the Great Depression of the 1930s. The bank finally established itself in 1970 and has continued to this day. In the meantime, it has been imitated in Finland, Italy and Spain. Also in Germany, where the roots of this idea can be traced back to the „Ausgleichskassen” (equalizing funds) during the Weimar Republic, there are new initiatives in Stuttgart and Freiburg. However, the JAK bank model is hardly known outside Sweden. Because the giving and taking of interest is forbidden in Islam, the JAK model in Sweden is apparently used by believing Muslims, who see that it offers them the opportunity to take part in the modern money system in a way that is compatible with their beliefs.

Further Information:

Ana Carrie (2001): How interest-free banking works – The case of JAK. In: FEASTA REVIEW Number 2, S. 149-154. Download: http://www.feasta.org/documents/review2/carrie2.pdf (247 KB)

Mark Anielski (2004): The JAK Members Bank Sweden An Assessment of Sweden’s No-Interest Bank. Download: http://anielski.com/wp-content/documents/The%20JAK%20Bank%20Report.pdf

JAK Boken /JAK Book (2009, Swedish, English, Italian): https://www.jak.se/international

Wikipedia: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/JAK_Mitgliedsbank

Videos: http://vimeo.com/13544381

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW2pj109Cr8

Article: http://p2pfoundation.net/JAK_Bank

JAK like models in Germany:

OZB Stuttgart Homepage: https://www.ozb.eu/

JAK like models in other countries:

JAK Denmark (JAK Danmark): http://www.jak.dk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JAKDANMARK

JAK Finland: http://www.jak.fi/mediawiki/phase3/index.php/Etusivu

JAK Italy (Associazione Culturale Jak Bank Italia): http://www.jakitalia.it/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jakitalia

Twitter: http://twitter.com/JakItalia

JAK Spain (JAK España): http://bancasininteres.blogspot.dk/p/el-modelo-jak.html

In 1935 during the worldwide Great Depression, economist Irving Fisher published a proposal for 100% Money, meaning one hundred per cent backing of bank deposits with central bank money (Fisher, 1935: for the history of Fisher’s proposal and his political strategy see Allen, 1993). This is also known as the Chicago Plan, because it was promoted by several Chicago economists at the time. According to this plan, banks should hold constant reserves of 100% for their customers’ current accounts. This is why this approach is also often called Full Reserve Banking. Money creation should no longer happen when commercial banks create loans. That power should be taken away from them. Commercial banking business would thus concentrate on its function as a money broker. Banks would only be allowed to issue loans against the amount of money the central bank had previously made available to them (Allen 1993: 705). The starting point for this concept is the observation that most payments are cashless. Irving Fisher estimated that already in his time 90% of payments were not made in cash but with ‘cheque book money’ (bank money that can be used at any time). The state does not have extensive influence over the creation of bank money because commercial banks can, when granting credit to customers, demand central bank credit, which in turn becomes new money. Thus commercial banks are able to create money many times over on the basis of very small reserve requirements. Bank money has become the most important payment medium although it is not backed by the same amounts of cash or central bank money. Fisher saw the rapid destruction of bank money as the main cause of the world economic crisis of that time. The collapse of the money supply that happened between 1929 and 1933 could have been prevented with a Full Reserve Banking System according to Fisher (Bordo/Rockoff 2011: 40). Fisher mentions various benefits of the 100% Plan (cf. Benes/Kumhof 2012: 5f.), for example that the sudden rise or collapse of credit giving by banks would be reduced. The dangers of either inflation or deflation would be reduced and the whole system be stabilized. The second advantage is the prevention of bank runs and bankruptcies. Overall, it would lead to a reduction in economic boom and bust and a much stronger link between money and the real economy. A third benefit that Fisher foresaw would be the extraordinary reduction of national debt because money would no longer be created by public borrowing. Thus the state could directly emit money itself instead of being forced to pay back interest-bearing loans to the banks. Because money would basically no longer be created through giving loans, private debt could also be reduced. Two analysts at the International Monetary Fund, Benes and Kumhof, recently modelled the Chicago Plan and concluded that the plan would indeed deliver the benefits that Fisher claimed for it (Benes/Kumhof 2012). Supporters of Full Reserve Banking also included Milton Friedman with his plan for monetary stability (Milton Friedman 1961: especially 65-75). A completely reserve-backed money would prevent runs on the banks because deposits are 100% backed and so customers with savings could be paid out in cash. Recently, the economist Binswanger made concrete proposals for the implementation of 100% money (Binswanger 2012). Thus central bank money, in the same sums as previously issued credit, could be made available to the commercial banks for a transitional period while loans are repaid, so that new fully backed loans can then be issued. One of the goals of Full Reserve Banking, alongside a stabilization of the money supply and a lessening of boom-bust cycles, is also the reduction of national debt by reducing the profits made from issuing money and in the longer term the reduction of private debt. Promoters of the idea see, in comparison with the existing system, a better chance of fulfilling these goals because fluctuations in the money supply, inflation and deflation can all be reduced. Critics argue however that the strict regulation of the creation of bank credit could lead to other finance products or assets taking over the functions of money. Alternatives would be sought and the possibilities of state control even more reduced (cf. Allen 1993: 716) (freely quoted from the German text: Philipp Degens (2013): Alternative Geldkonzepte, MPIfG Discussion Paper 1/13, with kind permission of the author).

Movements to reform money at the national level generally have a hard time. Their proponents must lobby for years or decades to gain influence over politicians and their advisors and they must present factually based and politically convincing concepts. If political reforms are realized, they often have far-reaching consequences because laws remain in force for a long time and apply to everyone, not just to those who personally choose different behaviour. In 1984, monetary reformer Helmutz Creutz made a proposal for a wide-reaching tax reform in Germany. Instead of taxing work as is currently the practice with income tax, Creutz proposed taxing above all the use of environmental resources: energy, resources, land, traffic. Taxes are the means by which governments seek to influence the dynamic of society. If work was cheaper and the use of resources and energy more expensive, society would then tend to minimize its use of resources, whilst workers would always be able to find work. Fundamental tax reform could be very effective but is not easy to implement because people do not change or give up advantages easily. In spite of powerful lobbying organizations, proposals are regularly made for reform of the tax system, including those that wish to reduce the redistribution of wealth from poor to rich, for example through higher taxes on capital. Another favorite topic is the (re)introduction of a wealth tax. The rich should not only pay taxes on their extra income but also on their wealth. The economist James Tobin proposed a transaction tax on foreign exchange transactions in order to calm the financial markets. The so-called Tobin Tax was the founding impulse for the campaigning organization Attac – the two Ts in ‘Attac’ stand for “taxation des transactions financières” (transaction tax on financial business).
If people had to pay taxes for doing business on the stock markets with currencies or shares, the hectic business would calm down because each transaction would also generate tax payments. There would also be extra tax income from speculation. (Re)regulation of banking has been intensively discussed since the beginning of the 2007/2008 financial crisis. One could introduce a segregated banking system where banks are forbidden to combine normal commercial banking business with the much riskier investment banking. It is also worth considering limiting the size of banks so banks would have to divide up or sell different areas of their business if they became too big. Behind this idea is the thought that when smaller banks get into difficulties then the arising problems are also smaller. Today many banks are “too big to fail”, that is too big to be liquidated. Their sheer size forces states to guarantee their survival. Banks should, like other businesses, be able to be declared insolvent without the risk that one bank failure bankrupts a whole economy because of collapsing payments systems. Regulation of the banking sector could also lead to a ban on ‘short selling’, the sale of ‘credit default swaps’ or the maximizing of ‘equity shares’. The fact that wealth can lead to social tensions was introduced by Karl Marx in his discussion in the book Das Kapital. Criticism of the system of ownership continually arises. The economists Gunnar Heinsohn and Otto Steiger derive the creation of money from the availability of wealth. Money and its functions were thus strongly influenced by the idea of private wealth. A particular form of wealth is land, which cannot be increased. Whereas other goods can be produced and thus increased, this only applies to land in a very limited way (for example through winning new land on the coast). Private possession of land has thus been questioned through reform proposals for decades. The commonest land reform idea is to regard land not as a private possession but as the common property of everyone. Whoever wishes to use land, leases it from society. Here there is a spectrum of ideas about the Commons, for which Elinor Ostrom received the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2009.

 

The idea of constructing a monetary system without (positive) interest rates can be traced to the German-Argentine businessman Silvio Gesell and the French economist Maurice Allais. Gesell observed the booms and busts of the economy in which he was doing business and developed the idea that fluctuating currency circulation leads to oscillating economic activity. When money circulates faster, a boom or inflation sets in; when it slows down, then there is less turnover and investment. The results are economic crises and deflation. Gesell saw as a central cause the fact that one can withdraw money from economic circulation: physically in that it disappears under the proverbial pillow; or in a more modern sense it gets swallowed up by the speculative financial markets that have very little to do with the real economy. In both cases it is not directly available for the purchase of produced goods, which with time wear out, rust or rot, or in other words lose their value, whilst money initially holds its value. Instead of rewarding the possessors of money with high interest payments for their “sacrifice of non-consumption”, he proposed the opposite: that they should pay a fee for keeping their money out of circulation in the economy. The term ‘demurrage’ is still used in the shipping industry: when the agreed period of time for loading or unloading a freight ship is overrun, then ‘demurrage’ or ‘storage money’ is due. Gesell wanted to apply the same principle to cash. In order to avoid the “costs of money hoarding”, the owner of money would make his liquidity available, even at an interest rate of 0%. So the theory goes. Because this money would mostly be lent out interest-free, he called his money concept “Freigeld” (German for “free money”). While Gesell’s reform proposal is mostly unknown to outsiders and highly controversial among economists, in practice, there is increasing acknowledgement of its value. Central banks and commercial banks in several countries have added this financial instrument to their toolkit and have begun to charge negative interest or ‘asset fees’ on current accounts. They thus hope to avoid deflationary economic crises without fuelling inflationary risks through increasing the money supply. Up to now, the ‘free money’ idea has only been tried in local ’emergency currencies’ and ‘parallel currencies’. This was how the mayor of the small town of Wörgl in Tirol, Austria issued ‘work vouchers’, on which a monthly ‘hoarding fee’ was payable, during the international Great Depression in 1932. This system led the community out of the worst of the crisis until it was outlawed by the central bank a year later. In 1930s USA, hundreds of ’emergency currencies’ were emitted, some of them with exorbitant circulation fees. Many modern regional currencies, the best example being the ‘Chiemgauer’ in Bavaria, also charge a ‘hoarding fee’ in order to increase local money circulation and stimulate the local economy. This idea is also used in commercial circles: purchased credits with the online telephony provider Skype (TM) disappear if they are not used within a certain period. There is a similar model in the history of coins; ‘bracteates’ were thin metal coins that were valid in certain regions and were regularly recalled. During the compulsory exchange of old for new coins, a fee was charged, which was meant as a tax but also led to a different relationship to money. Instead of hoarding the coins, which would become worthless on a certain day, people preferred to pass the money on today rather than tomorrow thus perpetuating the circulation of currency. This principle can still be found today with vouchers, prepaid cards or companies offering time-limited accounts. Lufthansa airline’s customer loyalty program is designed so that ‘air miles’ normally disappear after 36 months if not used, in order to prevent, amongst other things, Lufthansa going bankrupt because of its loyalty program, which would happen with a successful loyalty scheme if for example all customers were to redeem their points at the same time.

The NuSpaarpas loyalty system for sustainable behaviour was a project that took place in the Netherlands between 2000 and 2002, in which people could collect ‘bonus points’ for activities benefiting the environment: sorting waste, shopping with 100 local shops or by buying environmentally-friendly or Fair Trade products. The project was a partnership between the Rotterdam city government, Rabobank and Qoin (which was called Barataria at that time).

Another project, the Umweltkarte is a rewards system for citizens who want to do the right thing for the environment such as choosing public transport, changing to a green power provider, investing in renewable energies, buying regionally produced food, sorting waste, recycling mobile phones, buying energy saving devices etc. These environmental loyalty points can in turn only be used to purchase environmentally friendly products and services such as car sharing, energy advice or LED lighting. The project won a competition for citizens’ ideas in Hamburg, Germany in 2012 ( Zukunftscamp Hamburg 2030 ). Something similar is already operating in Limburg Province, Belgium: a rewards system called “E-Portmonnee”.

Investment /Innovation vouchers Through investment / innovation vouchers, public bodies can attract investment from companies. Businesses apply for such vouchers, which, depending on the political goals behind issuance, allow for the purchase of research services or capital goods. Thus these vouchers attract business investment wherever public bodies want to promote development.

Carbon Currencies – Emissions trading “Carbon currencies” could serve as a kind of aid for both incentivizing and limiting behavior around carbon emissions. Emissions trading with certificates already exists in Europe. Each certificate represents the right to emit a specified amount of carbon dioxide, which can for example be specified per person. Participants need to possess a certain amount of “carbon assets” in order to purchase goods and services, which makes the use of fossil fuels more expensive and creates incentives to switch to less carbon intensive products. The conscious limitation of available carbon currency units reflects the limited capacity of the atmosphere to absorb carbon and integrates the currency into economic trade. European experiences in this area could be a good starting point for a global carbon currency system (see wikipedia: EU Emissions Trading Scheme and Energy Currencies).

Educational currencies are built on the idea that people learn most when they teach others. An educational currency can help school children to ‘buy’ help with schoolwork from older children. Older students can then buy a place at a university, at which point the currency units return to the issuer at the educational ministry. A sophisticated though yet to be realized version of this is the Saber for Brazil.

Reputation currencies If one considers currencies not only as ‘monetary units the possessors can exchange’ but widens their definition as ‘symbol systems’, then other currencies become imaginable. For example, in science one often talks of citations as the ‘currency of science’. Scientific work that is often referenced is seen as valuable and its author gains reputation and recognition. Citations in scientific papers cannot be ‘exchanged’ as one exchanges monetary units but they demonstrate how important a particular piece of scientific work is for a scientific field.

At the end of the 1990s, Georg Franck defined another type of currency: the ‘currency’ of attention and its associated ‘economy’ of attention. People pay with their “personal time” he wrote in Telepolis magazine (in German) (20 March 1996), by which he means for example the attention a newspaper can command from its readers. This broader definition of currencies can also extend our understanding of ‘economy’. The value of something can be much higher than its pure market value, in other words the sum of money one receives for selling a product.

Arthur Brock’s Prezi “Transitioning to the New Economy” reminds us for example that honey is not only worth the price one receives from its sale. Honey is the small end product of the bees’ pollination service and without this there would be no fruit and hardly any vegetables because the collection of nectar leads to much greater effects that simply cannot be measured by money.

(This article will be further expanded! Subscribe to our Newsletter to keep informed of new contributions.)

In June 2014 the European Central Bank dropped its base interest rate below 0% for the first time. It charges “negative interest” on overnight deposits of commercial banks and is not the first or only bank to do this. With this policy central banks hope to stimulate commercial banks to make loans into the real economy instead of depositing excess money with the central bank. As a result the inter-bank interest rates also fell below zero and some banks introduced fees on deposits in current accounts of large customers.
http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/43/43378/1.html

Euro, Dollar, Pound and Yen are under fire from some critics: these currencies have lost their connection with the real economy and take no account of the scarcity of real resources or the distinctive features of particular regions. The necessity of growth and the maximization of profit are pre-programmed by the system of credit creation. Proposals for energy-based currencies aim to create an alternative: a medium of exchange compatible with the structure of renewable energies, which is stable in the long-term, emitted decentrally and actively promotes sustainable regional development or investment in renewables. The idea of an energy-backed currency is not new. The first known monies in the ancient world were ‘solar biomass currencies’. Shekel coins in ancient Babylon served for example both as a receipt and as a redemption certificate for grain stored in the giant grain stores. Currencies with a connection to energy were sometimes mentioned in discussions during the currency crises of the 20th century. Nobody has yet realized such a currency as a legal tender currency. In the face of increasing conflicts over resources, modern energy technology innovations and the increasing profile of complementary currencies, energy currencies are again being discussed. Recent proposals for energy currencies are often inspired by existing parts of the energy-economic jigsaw such as Crowdfunding and Community Joint Venture Enterprises, Energy Certificates, Smart Metering with intelligent electric meters, digital accounting and payments systems and blockchain technology.

Further Literature: Tony Greenham, Josh Ryan-Collins, Ludwig Schuster: Energising Money Report. New Economics Foundation, 2013 http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/entry/energising-money

LETS

Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) may be regarded as a professionalization and further development of neighborly help. On the one hand, they allow participants to meet each other’s needs without using money. On the other hand, alongside the material benefits, idealistic and social elements also play a large role. The aim of exchange rings, which are mostly run by groups of volunteers, is the creation of social networks, sometimes spanning generations. Exchange rings can and should create community, increase the value of one’s own and others’ contributions and enable self-help and individual responsibility. A certain independence from the jobs market is also often part of their philosophy. Exchange rings can promote cultural and social integration because participants do not need Euros to participate and so the status and financial situation of participants hardly plays a role. Many exchange rings denominate their units of exchange in time (minutes or hours), which brings the worth of peoples’ work into discussion. Here the differences between exchange rings and time banks or ‘caring currencies’ are minimal, see below.

From a tax point of view, offers in exchange rings are counted as neighborly help so long as they are not someone’s normal profession or occupation and do not overstep a prescribed legal income limit. Participants are responsible for reporting their exchanges for tax where necessary.

In practice, a neighborly exchange ring might look like this for example:

Thomas needs help installing a new operating system on his laptop. He becomes aware of Sabine through the exchange platform. She does the job in two hours and Thomas transfers the estimated exchange units from his account to Sabine’s. Thomas’s account balance is accordingly reduced. Thomas can do this because he either has a sufficient credit limit on his account or he has for example given another participant English lessons and received credits himself. Sabine is happy to receive credits from Thomas because another participant is ready to do a job for her she doesn’t like – washing the windows.

Scotsman Michael Linton is seen by some as the ‘inventor’ of non-commercial exchange rings. He conceived the first exchange ring, which became known as LETS and served as a blueprint for many later developers, particularly in the English speaking world, in the Canadian Comox Valley on Vancouver Island in 1982.

The exchange ring scene in Germany has clearly differentiated itself from the Regio or regional currency movement for a long time now because exchange rings see themselves as practicing “economic transactions not mediated by money”, according to the former chief organizer of the German Exchange Ring Movement, Klaus Gräff.

Exchange rings are mostly organized by voluntary groups or cooperatives. Exchange rings, like local or regional currencies, can be organized on a neighborhood or regional basis and they are often networked across regions so that participants can take advantage of offers in other places (e.g. overnight accommodation). Some exchange rings are tied to regional currencies, such as the Talente-Tauschkreis Vorarlberg in Austria (www.talentiert.at). Others have agreements with commercial Barter Clubs and so provide more flexibility and possibilities. The Austrian GIT Trading works closely with the Graz exchange ring and so combines business and private exchanges. Some systems are also experimenting with selling exchange units for Euros.

Time Banks

The popularity of Time Banks in the USA can be attributed to the work of Dr. Edgar Cahn, who wanted to improve the quality and effectiveness of public services. He is also the founder of Time Banks USA , an umbrella organization founded in 1995 that supports and develops time bank initiatives in various ways. Here the ‘currency’ is also time, which can be earned for social engagement and later exchanged for services. Cahn saw the need to promote time banks in order to counter the reduction of public services by the state. Here the concept of ‘coproduction’ is important – the idea people should not just be passive receivers of public services but play an active role. These participants can play a role in shaping public services. Time Banks USA, which serves a network of 200 Time Banks in the USA, defines the following five principles of time banks:

  • Assets: each person is an asset and we all have the ability to make a valuable contribution.

  • Redefining work: the value of many activities is beyond market valuation.

  • Reciprocity: it is in human nature both to give and to receive help.

  • Respect: each person deserves to be heard because everyone counts. We are responsible for each other.
  • Community: we grow social networks because we need each other. We can achieve more together than alone.

Time Banks became popular in the USA in the 1980s through the work of Dr. E. Cahn and then in Great Britain in the 1990s, where they were promoted by Martin Simon at Fair Shares and David Boyle at the New Economics Foundation (NEF), a think tank for a socially, ecologically and economically sustainable economy. Timebanking UK reports the existence of around 300 Time Banks it supports. NEF is a partner with Spice, which has further developed the time bank model by including government organizations. The Spice Time Bank model was supported by the “Community Currencies in Action” project, which was funded over several years by the EU to establish and develop alternative money systems. In the Spice model, participants earn ‘time credits’ through participating in various community activities. These can be offered by partners in the Spice network. In contrast to conventional time banks, a voluntary organization or government body is the receiver of services. The time credits that participants earn are then used for example to visit leisure centers, museums and cultural events amongst other things. The ‘return service’ that volunteers receive for their time credits is a good deal for these organizations because they usually offer services that have otherwise not been sold or other spare capacities. A particular application of time banks is ‘caring currencies’ like the Japanese Fureai Kippu System and the Timesaving Foundation of the City of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

 

Taxation issues

Time credits in the USA are free from taxation. The tax authorities make a distinction between Time Banks and commercial Barter Systems, whose participants are taxed. Their charitable objectives are recognized and so they are not taxed, which in view of the weak public services in the USA is not surprising. Private Time Banks and Exchange Rings are also seen as charitable in the UK. In Germany by contrast, normal tax and trade regulations apply. In spite of their charitable aims, Time Banks and Exchange Rings in Germany are not exempt from taxation. Participants are generally assumed to gain economic benefits from participation.

Distinction between Exchange Rings and Time Banks

Many neighborhood Time Banks can hardly be distinguished from Exchange Rings. However, some Time Banks also include the option of saving for old age care. Time Banks also usually put a greater emphasis on the social benefits, which is why the involvement of public and charitable bodies such as Spice makes sense. Many studies have shown Time Banks demonstrate socially beneficial effects: people learn to value their skills because Time Banks offer people opportunities to discover their strengths and to offer them in exchange for help in return. The strengthening of communities, extension of social networks and respect for one another are values that cannot be measured with money. It is exactly these values that Time Banks seek to strengthen. Time Banks can be an instrument for meeting the challenges of an ageing population by strengthening and promoting social commitment. That is where people often glimpse so much potential – so long as it is not just about reducing costs in the existing system but about offering new ways of working that are more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. These systems are not just about providing a direct accounting system for credits but much more about saving social and caring hours for one’s own caring needs in the future.

Software

Many organizations use online software for administrating membership and accounting information, such as that developed by the Netherlands-based development organization STRO, the open source Cyclos software or the CES exchange platform developed by Ashoka Fellow Timothy Jenkins in South Africa, now in use in 34 countries.

Some Exchange Rings use software they have developed themselves, such as the Elbtal Exchange Network for example.

Further Weblinks:

LETSystem Design Manual: http://www.tauschwiki.de/wiki/LETSystem_Design_Manual

LETSLink UK: http://www.letslinkuk.net

Time Banks USA: http://timebanks.org

Time Banking UK: http://www.timebanking.org

Time Banking Wales: http://timebankingwales.org.uk

SPICE Innovations Ltd, UK: http://www.justaddspice.org

Timesaving Foundation, St. Gallen, Switzerland: http://www.zeitvorsorge.ch

Fureai Kippu, Japan: MONNETA Article: Caring Currencies in Japan

Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 30-44