Gerry Tebben forwarded this January 18, 2019 Wall Street Journal article about Brixton Pounds notes and other community currencies in Britain. -Editor
One vending machine stands out in Brixton Market, a fast-gentrifying spot in south London. The prices are unusually high, £10 on the top row and
5 beneath. But then the goods
for sale are unusual too: neatly rolled “Brixton pounds,” with peace signs in place of zeros and singer David Bowie in place of the Queen.
Brixton is one of several British communities, from the city of Bristol to the sleepy Lake District national park, experimenting with their own currencies. Their goal: to
provide a means of supporting local businesses and build a sense of community. If it helps reduce dependence on traditional banks and cuts down on the carbon emissions that come
with trading long distances, all the better.
“It’s money that sticks to the area,” said Madeleine Boomgaarden, who manages the project in Brixton.
Such local currencies are essentially vouchers, transferable back into standard British pounds at a one-to-one rate. In many ways, they are cousins of high-tech
cryptocurrencies, which aim to replace fiat money with a decentralized payment system independent of traditional banks.
The teams behind each currency say the notes are designed with security in mind. The bills in Brixton are produced by a specialized printer with diamond-embossed security paper
and gold foil numbering.
But the Bank of England has flagged concerns that local money can undermine confidence in official bank notes, particularly when efforts fail.
“Brexit shows how exposed national currencies are,” said Ms. Boomgaarden. “So if sterling falls through the floor in March, Bowie notes might be what everyone’s after.”
To read the complete article (subscription required), see:
Your Bowie Is No Good Here, But He’ll Pay for a Zumba Class
in Brixton (https://www.wsj.com/articles/your-bowie-is-no-good-here-but-hell-pay-for-a-zumba-class-in-brixton-11547814606)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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