Innovative concepts for community currencies by Anna-Lisa Schmalz, München, 24.07.2013

Towns and communities have an interest in stable local businesses in a stable economy. As well as supporting the local economy, each local authority has of course other social, cultural or ecological goals, which cannot be supported to the desired extent because of a lack of finance. A regional currency can be appropriately designed to support these goals so that less financial support is required from the local authority. It can keep spending power in the region and thus give extra business to small and medium enterprises.

About the author:

Anna-Lisa Schmalz works in Munich and is qualified in mathematics and information technology. She has co-developed software for banks and insurance companies. Since 2009, she has dedicated her efforts towards the theory and practice of complementary currencies. She played an important role in the Amper-Taler regional currency for Dachau and its affiliation to the inter-regional currency system Regios eG Rosenheim. In 2010, she wrote a concept paper for ‘regional economic communities’, which was used as the basis for ReWiG München eG (January 2011), ReWiG Schlehdorf eG (January 2012) and ReWiG Allgäu eG (July 2012).

Anna advises projects wanting to introduce a complementary currency and gives talks and workshops on various related themes. The original paper in German is here: PDF-Dokument herunterladen (779 KB, Creative Commons Lizenz CC BY-SA 3.0).

An English language website describing the concept is here.

This handbook has been designed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), on behalf of the Community Currencies in Action (CCIA) EU Interreg IVB NWE Programme, project, to inspire community currency (CC) organisers and help them gain the most from their currency project by learning more about project evaluation and impact assessment. Getting to grips with project evaluation can help to make project aims clearer and also ensure that project support and funding is easier to achieve.

We provide guidance on how to evaluate the impact of a CC by using a Theory of Change (ToC). This is a process that suits a number of diverse project settings. It can be used as an instrumental initial step in defining a project’s aims and helping to evaluate its success.

The whole handbook can be downloaded here, more information on the NEF website.

Local Authorities and Municipalities across Europe are facing unprecedented socio-economic challenges in the context of budget cuts and increasing demand. It is in this challenging environment that Local Authorities and Municipalities are looking for innovative approaches and practical instruments that support them to deliver their core aims and responsibilities.
Community Currencies are economic, policy and social instruments, complementing conventional money and addressing issues or problems that would otherwise remain unmet in the current money system. As such, they are unique tools for Local Authorities and Municipalities to integrate into their core delivery to address numerous high-priority issues. These include responding to increased health and social demands, building a vibrant local business economy, democratising public services and addressing environmental impacts. Community Currencies are economic, policy and social instruments, operating supplement to conventional money, addressing issues or problems that would otherwise remain unmet in the current money system.
Section 1 gives a brief overview of Community Currencies and introduces some of the key examples that will be utilised throughout the paper.
Section 2 then demonstrates how Community Currencies address a number of the key challenges and opportunities facing local authorities, focusing on four key areas of impact
in particular:
1.    Democratising services and improving service delivery
2.    Supporting the SME economy
3.    Countering inequality and social exclusion
4.    Addressing environmental impacts
Through multiple examples of Community Currencies from across northwest Europe (NWE) designed to deliver these four outcomes, Section 3 explores the different roles that Local Authorities and Municipalities can play in the development, implementation and evaluation of currency projects. Six distinct levels of engagement for Local Authorities and Municipalities will be introduced, namely: championing; participating; sponsoring; co-partnering; integrating; and leading.

Finally, Section 4 summarises the opportunity and challenges for Local Authorities and Municipalities in implementing Community Currencies.
The majority of examples including in this paper are taken from pilot currencies of the Community Currencies in Action (CCIA) project. Part-funded by the European Union’s Interreg project, CCIA is the largest ever transnational project in the community currency field, bringing together expert partners from across NWE and coordinating six pilot currencies in the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and France.

The whole report can be downloaded here.

Since the financial crisis, interest in new types of money has surged. Projects like Bitcoin have hit the headlines as communities around the world experiment with their own currencies and methods of exchange. In this new and innovative field, we have only just begun to understand and measure their impact.

It is no coincidence that community currencies have rapidly risen to prominence in the years following the financial crisis. When the conventional monetary system foundered, alternative means of exchanging time and goods were created to plug the gaps.

These new currencies provide an important supplement to conventional money. A growing body of global evidence supports the idea that they can meet the needs of local areas and economies in ways that euros and pound sterling cannot.

The whole report can be downloaded here, more information and appendix on the NEF website.