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CBS Sunday Morning report-Creating new wealth on Sardinia, without cash

Beyond Money - August 7, 2017 - 08:50

This recent report on the popular TV show, CBS Sunday Morning, highlights the effectiveness of direct credit clearing among buyers and sellers of goods and services–a way of doing commerce without the need for money or banks.

See also my own report from my 2015 visit to Sardex.


Categories: Blogs

Basic income currencies

Matslats - August 6, 2017 - 09:50

As a complementary currency engineer, I come across basic income ideas of social justice all the time, but I don't see them as my territory. It is a way of sharing wealth which we collectively own or create. Ideally it would be enough money to reduce or eliminate the imperative on people to sell their labour, say, a few hundred Euros per month.

That means basic income is very difficult for grass roots organisation or NGOs to practice, because it necessitates finding enough money to do something meaningful, giving it away to the people least qualified to handle money (for some reason the 'trials' that happen are always on the poor), and then a more-or-less subjective impact assessment. So most of the few experiments afforded in the west are financed by governments, such as the current trial in Finland and the coming trial in Barcelona. Another strategy I admire is a German crowdfunded lottery in which the prize is basic income for a lucky individual for one year.

Some projects though like Grantcoin (soon to be relaunched as 'Manna') or Gradido, GroupCurrency are trying to implement basic income by simply issuing currency (or cryptocurrency tokens) to all participants. This has the advantage that they at least don't have to commandeer vast amounts money, or change government policy, but raises the problem that the tokens come into existence with no spending power. Consequently all these projects seem to me a bit ill-conceived. Take the Occcu, launched in 2012 and silent ever since.

I'd like to point out some common problems with this approach in case anyone is reading.

First of all inflation. Basic income implies a monthly distribution of tokens into the economy. If the tokens aren't being removed the from the economy using, say forced taxation, negative interest, transaction fees, fines etc, and if members aren't saving these units up for a rainy day or speculating on their future value, and if membership is not reducing, then the purchasing power of the tokens should constantly decline. One current project, Duniter copes with the growing volume of tokens in relation to goods and services by declaring a fixed rate of inflation as a fact of life. This is actually a sound mechanism, but counter-intuitive and calculated to raise the hackles of every eminent economist and middle class citizen. The same effect could be achieved with a constant token supply by say, adjusting all wallet balances half way back to 100 on the first of each month.

Secondly most alt-currencies and cryptocurrencies do nothing to foster the development of a marketplace. What I've learned in all these years of creating complementary currencies is that a currency without a marketplace is not even a currency in the sense that it has nowhere and no reason to flow (although that doesn't stop speculators pumping up the price). To justify its existence, a currency must direct energy and/or resources which otherwise would have lain idle or gone elsewhere. This was the breakthrough of the LETS model - it incorporated a not only a system of accounting but a directory of member-2-member services. Further, I would argue that marketplaces must exist before currencies and that currencies are tools that have utility only in the context of an existing marketplace. Creating a currency without a marketplace is all-but guaranteed to fail. And that is even without stressing the marketplace by redistributing stuff from producers to non-producers via a basic income.

Redistributing the community's resources, which basic income necessarily does, requires not only that resources be traded in the marketplace but that somebody has the authority to take from some and give to others. This is how the national economy already works but complementary currencies have voluntary membership and no enforcement, so the sales pitch to the rich is much harder.

Too many people who discover the problems with fiat money imagine that citizens can design a superior currency and the people, in the face of the the most efficient, acceptable, powerful, supported, habitual, liquid and legal currency, will vote with their wallets. Some people use Bitcoin this way, seeking to earn and spend it, and telling their friends, but after 8 years and loads of PR, and tens of billions market capitalization, most cryptocurrencies are used for for speculation, not their intended functions. For me a currency needs to have users and trades going on during the design phase, not to seek a market after being released! Inventing a complementary currency as a vehicle for basic income is absolutely the wrong way around.

In conclusion I think that basic income is only meaningful when done with 'current' money, i.e. widely circulating money and that only government has the legal and political tools to redistribute resources in an organised and socially just way. Basic Income is a policy instrument which sits on the shelf next to public services, welfare and tax rebates. That's why this tweet caught my attention, more than the projects linked above.

"Universal #basicincome paired with a local cryptocurrency is the way forward." - candidate for mayor of Detroit https://t.co/sglKL9hih7 pic.twitter.com/t7wmFcYgxv

— Scott Santens (@scottsantens) August 6, 2017
Categories: Blogs

Human self-domestication or human extinction?

Beyond Money - July 30, 2017 - 15:34

The final segment in today’s episode of Radio Lab (New Normal?) on NPR Radio was a fascinating report on domestication of wild animals, specifically foxes. By selective breeding of the few foxes who did not exhibit avoidance behavior (fear) when approached by humans, a Russian scientist was able, in ten generations, to produce docile domesticated foxes.

This naturally raises the question about the possibility of domesticating human to be less aggressive and more empathetic. In fact, the anthropological evidence suggests that since we began living in settled groups, the human species has long been undergoing a process of self-domestication, this perhaps as a necessary adaptation for living together in harmony. That idea, together with Steven Pinker’s argument that humans are becoming less violent (The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined), gives me cause for hope that humanity will not extinguish itself from planet Earth.

On the other hand, the fact that power is today so concentrated in the hands of a global elite who, by their threatening behavior and objectives of domination, seem not to have sufficiently evolved in that way, is cause for worry. That raises other questions: how can they be prevented from acting irrationally or how can the levers of power that they control be disabled or overridden?–t.h.g.


Categories: Blogs

What can history teach us about the present?

Beyond Money - July 24, 2017 - 11:47

Is there a science of history? Are there patterns in human affairs that tend to repeat themselves? Can we understand what is happening in our time by studying the past? These are questions that have intrigued me for a long time. Based on my study of systems, networks, political economy, and human behavior, my conclusions tends toward the affirmative in each case.

Based on his book, 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed, Prof. Eric Cline, in this fascinating lecture, looks back more than 3,200 years to describe the collapse of an earlier “global” civilization.  He presents evidence of an elaborate trading network around the Mediterranean which was composed of what he calls “the G8 of the ancient world.”

Here is a portion of the description from the YouTube channel:
“From about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex cosmopolitan and globalized world-system. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Professor Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University will explore why the Bronze Age came to an end and whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society.”

On the same general topic, Ian Morris, Professor of History at Stanford University, in his lecture Why the West Rules — For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future, points to the same primary factors that lead to the collapse of civilizations.

Mass migration
Epidemic diseases
State failure
Famine
Climate change

Historically, each collapse had been followed by a “dark age.” Is that what’s in store for us in our time? View the full lecture at https://youtu.be/wnqS7G3LmMo.


Categories: Blogs

What can history teach us about the present?

Beyond Money - July 20, 2017 - 10:18

Is there a science of history? Are there patterns in human affairs that tend to repeat themselves? Can we understand what is happening in our time by studying the past? These are questions that have intrigued me for a long time. Based on my study of systems, networks, political economy, and human behavior, my conclusions tends toward the affirmative in each case.

Based on his book, 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed, Prof. Eric Cline, in this fascinating lecture, looks back more than 3,200 years to describe the collapse of an earlier “global” civilization.  He presents evidence of an elaborate trading network around the Mediterranean which was composed of what he calls “the G8 of the ancient world.”

Here is a portion of the description from the YouTube channel:
“From about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex cosmopolitan and globalized world-system. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Professor Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University will explore why the Bronze Age came to an end and whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society.”


Categories: Blogs

What in the world is going on? — Part 3

Beyond Money - July 20, 2017 - 08:20

George Friedman, professional geopolitical analyst, founder of STRATFOR and author of The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century seems quite knowledgeable about history and the current status of military and economic power around the world.  In the following presentation he talks about U.S. strategy over the past 100 years and “the real interests of the United States.” He argues that the powers that control U.S. foreign policy have one overriding fear, which is “a united Eurasia”–“Our primary interest is to make sure that Russia and Germany do not form an entente,” neither by conquest nor agreement.

He observes that “Eurasia is now in complete chaos,” Russia and China are both weakening, and that Japan, Turkey, Poland are on the rise. He admits that “We staged the coup in Ukraine.” Regarding the Middle-East, he says “it will come down to Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to work it out.”

He believes (or claims to) that the U.S. intervention in Libya was ethically motivated, but I find that hard to believe. The evidence of the past century of U.S. interventions around the world shows quite clearly that ethical and humanitarian motivations provide mere cover for quite different  objectives. In the case of Libya, I believe that the attacks by the U.S. and NATO forces, and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi, had more to do with keeping Libya within the global debt money regime than with rescuing the Libyan people from the clutches of a “brutal dictator.”–t.h.g.


Categories: Blogs

Which way for the ecology movement? (Audiobook)

Matslats - July 19, 2017 - 14:46
Despite being repetitive, and often dense, Bookchin writing in the 60s, 70s and 80s makes arguments I've never heard before, and manages to be more convincing and more optimistic than many of his contemporaries, many of whom, he argues are shallow, woolly, misanthropic, or totalitarian! Introduction: the future of the ecology movement

Covers most of the themes of the book, but in less detail (1993)
Download (59 mins). Will ecology become "The Dismal Science"?

Bookchin lays into spiritual ecologistsl, accusing them of mistaking industrialism for capitalism and of Neo-maulthusianism! (1989)

Read the text, or listen to Mp3 audio (25 mins).

The population myth

Lots of overlap with the the previous essay, but the focus on population and the problems not so much with the maths of Neo-mathusianism, but the tyranny of it. (1988)
Read the text or listen to the Mp3 audio (53 mins). Sociobiology or social ecology

This longer essay is in two parts. The first looks at how ecologists try to understand human society as if it merely emerged from the deterministic biology. The second is about whether and how it is possible to derive an ethic by looking only at nature (1993).
Read the text or listen to the Mp3 audio (85 mins).

Categories: Blogs

Aaron Schwartz, revolutionary genius

Beyond Money - July 15, 2017 - 11:50

I could not help but be moved by watching this documentary about the life and death of Aaron Schwartz. Aaron fought for justice and for open access to the information commons. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude.


Categories: Blogs

Money: the Unauthorised Biography

Matslats - July 15, 2017 - 08:58

This lucid and readable book traverses monetary history and philosophy to explain why money is no longer a tool for social justice, and indicates the kinds of solutions that could set it straight.

Download zip file (140MB).

Buy the paper book here.

Categories: Blogs

Trump resists pressure from the war mongers; makes friends with Russia

Beyond Money - July 12, 2017 - 12:24

The meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit was encouraging in its length, breadth, and outcomes. The western mainstream media propaganda machine has been relentless in its barrage of allegations, innuendo, and hype against Russia in the elite’s attempt to rekindle the cold war and corral every nation into the global debt-money regime that is their greatest lever of control.

President Trump seems to have thrown a monkey wrench into the works on that, but it  remains to be seen how far his administration will be allowed to get out of line before the rug is pulled out from under him—one way or another. This article by Israel Shamir on the Global Research website provides a thorough account and analysis of the Trump-Putin meeting. And this article by Finian Cunningham about the reaction from the US Deep State, is also worth reading. -t.h.g.


Categories: Blogs

“The Big Lie” and the tragedy of Europe –Yanis Varoufakis blows the lid on Europe’s hidden agenda

Beyond Money - July 2, 2017 - 02:33

In this interview, former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, outlines the nature of the 2008 financial crisis, the reasons for the program of “quantitative easing” and the irrational actions of the western European leaders. The fundamental point he seems to miss is the debt growth imperative that is inherent in today’s global money system, the underlying fact that keeps everyone trapped in a system that is driving the whole of civilization toward disaster.


Categories: Blogs

Paying attention to FairCoin!

Matslats - July 1, 2017 - 06:08

Two years ago I posted a bemused article on Faircoin, which was trading between some members of Faircoop at five times the price it was available on the free market. This was a social experiment being run by Enric Duran as part of his attempts to build a new financial system. It seemed to me a risky venture which depended not only on Duran's integrity, but on everyone's confidence in him. Our language abilities didn't overlap sufficiently for me to be confident that he understood the market he was manipulating.

This year however, the project is in a different league. Instead of Enric's periodically announcing the price on an obscure FairCoop noticeboard like a sovereign, there is now a lively chat group with 80 members. Their objective is twofold, 1) to propose the 'official' price of FairCoin to the FairCoop monthly assembly, and 2) to manage the free market price.

The price should increase slowly and steadily, in contrast to other cryptocurrencies which fail as money because they are volatile. They aim to build confidence attract long term investors who want their money to do social good. FairCoop is selling FairCoin at the official price and building a pile of Euros. Those Euros are not for spending but remain available to buy back FairCoins from members who accepted them but cannot spend them. They do not guarantee to redeem all FairCoin ever issued, why should they? They are just a private institution in a free market trading a commodity.

Insofar as coins are circulating they don't need to be redeemed and only then can the pile of Euros be LENT (not spent) on something else. They are building their own bank, capitalised by the FairCoin in our wallets.

It is this manipulation for a purpose, within the free market, that makes FairCoin so interesting. Cryptocurrencies by their nature allow anyone to participate, but a motivated team with some resources should be able to 'own' or at least take control of a market for their own ends. They need to keep as many coins as possible in friendly hands, and of course to grow the list of vendors who accept FAIR, who can be reassured of a cash price from FairCoop.

Two years ago the 'official' FairCoop price had been 5x of the Bittrex price, and a few people kept the faith, but it was really only a handful of activist business who accepted it. But something, whether Enric's persistence, or the whims of the free market, or a handful of self appointed market-managers, lifted the price, then in in May this year, there was a rush of money into crypto-markets, and FairCoin, with its low volume of trade benefited more than most.

Suddenly the free-market price was above the official price. FairCoop had to restrict its sales to prevent arbitrageurs eating the money pile.

This has been the situation for some weeks. The new price should be decided by the assembly. If (and when) the volatility can't be managed and the official price drops, FairCoin holders will weather the storm, especially after having enjoyed a 20 fold increase in the free-market price.

This all means that suddenly there is a lot more money behind Faircoin. The team can more confidently offer cash redemption to more vendors and has more reserves with which to smooth the free market volatility. The official list of vendors is much improved on two years ago, though still rather weak. So saying, I was able to go to a wholefood store in Athens and buy more than I could carry!

FairCoop activists are also innovating on payment technologies possible in few other cryptocurrencies. They are able, with a Spanish partner, ChipChap, to convert FAIR into Euros and withdraw them from the ATM in one smooth action! The Bank of the Commons initiative aims to provide a multi-wallet solution for holding and moving between Euros, Bitcoin, FairCoin, and balances from local exchange systems.

So why not show some support by at least getting yourself a FairCoin wallet, proudly displaying this badge, and listing your trade on the Fairmarket.

Categories: Blogs

The war against cash continues apace

Beyond Money - June 24, 2017 - 04:36

Thanks to Michael Nevradakis for his excellent article, How Greece Became A Guinea Pig For A Cashless And Controlled Society, that recently appeared in Mint Press News.

The world has long been heading toward a neo-feudal world order headed by a global elite that uses its control of money, banking and finance to fleece and disempower the masses. Georgetown Professor and Bill Clinton’s mentor Carroll Quigley, told us 50 years ago that:
“The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank . . . sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.”
––Prof. Carroll Quigley, Georgetown historian, mentor of former President Clinton, and author of Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, 1966, p. 324.

To anyone who cares to look, it is clear to see how that precise agenda has been playing out over the past several decades, and what the end state will be. The war against cash is a logical next step in achieving the plan that Quigley outlined. I strongly urge the reader to study Nevradakis’ entire article here.


Categories: Blogs

Democratizing capitalism

Beyond Money - June 23, 2017 - 02:16

Cutting Edge Capital’s Vice-President Brian Beckon provides a crash course on investing and community development, and describes how ordinary people can invest some of their savings in local profit-making ventures that conform to their values. The strategies being worked out by his firm are aimed at creating healthier, more resilient and self-reliant communities while enabling small investors to earn a share of the profits generated by businesses that they believe in and wish to support. Approaches like these are essential to building a more democratic and equitable economy. Listen here.


Categories: Blogs

Greece workshop starts Friday

Beyond Money - June 11, 2017 - 09:12

The start of our workshop, Monetary and Financial Innovation for the New Economy, is just a few days away but there is still space available and enough time to make travel arrangements. Here are some additional details about what you can expect from the experience.

The workshop leader will provide enough structure to focus attention and direct the inquiry but leave room for creativity, individual research, and the spontaneous emergence of innovative designs, plans, and implementation strategies. That structure will include:

  • The fundamental concepts upon which the exchange process and capital formation are based.
  • Critical examination of present and past alternatives.
  • The various aspects that must be addressed in design and deployment of exchange and finance innovations.

Everyone will play an active role in an intensive process of inquiry, discovery, sharing and collaboration aimed at:

  1. achieving a deeper understanding of the principles of currency, credit, finance, and the exchange process, and,
  2. developing action plans for the design and deployment of robust systems that can be widely proliferated and quickly scaled up to global dimensions.
  3. assembling a knowledge base that can provide guidance toward achieving more equitable and sustainable structures for value exchange and finance.

As the week progresses, teams may be formed to dig deeper into particular aspects of design and implementation and to develop action plans. Besides Exchange and Finance, the realms of our inquiry will include Change, Innovation, Processes, Systems, and Networks.

Depending on the needs and interests of the participants, the focus of our attention will be on definitions and principles related to some of the following topics:

  1. The essence and role of money
  2. Banking
  3. Reciprocal Exchange
  4. Liquidity
  5. Monetization
  6. Basis of issue, backing, and
  7. Credit
  8. Alternative currency models
  9. Credit clearing and “offset”
  10. Value measurement and units of account
  11. Saving and investment; value storage and capital formation
  12. Intermediation and disintermediation
  13. Usury and interest
  14. Demurrage
  15. Inflation, deflation, and currency debasement
  16. Depressions. The nature and causes of economic depressions.
  17. Exchange Networks
  18. Inter-trading across trade exchanges; Balance of payments/trade.
  19. Broader implications of innovative exchange mechanisms.
  20. Implementation and proliferation of innovative exchange mechanism.

And, there will be plenty of time to enjoy the beach and Greek village life.

Further details and booking are at http://www.kalikalos.com/community/x/exchange-finance-new-economy-thomas-greco/

If finances are a problem, application for discounts may be made by writing to Rachel Davson at rachaeldavson@gmail.com.

Looking forward to working with you,

Thomas


Categories: Blogs

What in the world is going on? — Part 2

Beyond Money - June 7, 2017 - 10:00

Paul Craig Roberts has been inside and outside of the U.S. Government. He served under President Ronald Reagan and was a colleague of Zbigniew Brzezinski at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where Roberts occupied the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy. He has had a unique vantage point from which to observe over his long career the dynamics of power and global developments. His website is a treasure trove of commentary that provides clear insight into what in the world is going on.

His recent post, Washington’s Empire Is Not Unraveling,  argues that despite president Trump’s recent actions, the military-industrial-financial complex remains firmly in control and the agenda of “full spectrum dominance” is still on track.

He points out that, with the help of the mains stream media, “Americans and the world are blinded to the fact that there are power centers that constrain a president and are capable of substituting their agendas for the agendas on which the president campaigned.”  Read the full article here.

And for insights into how the global financial system is malfunctioning, in addition to David Stockman, whom I mentioned in Part 1, you also need to follow Chris Martenson via his website, Peak Prosperity. In this video, https://youtu.be/E1g57mjGcGc he talks about the massive inflation of money that has characterized recent actions by three major central banks, the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan, and the European Central Bank. All three have been furiously “printing money” which they use to buy securities, thus creating asset bubbles–not a good sign for long-term prospects.


Categories: Blogs

To all my followers...

Matslats - June 6, 2017 - 08:22

As readers of my blog you'll be aware of a new initiative, the Credit Commons Collective, to connect three of the larger complementary currency networks, and invite others also to connect.

I invite you to sign up to a new mailing list, on which news of that initiative will be broadcast.

https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/creditcommonscollective

Thanks for being there...

Categories: Blogs

How to Bring Liquidity Into an Economy, Free of Interest, Inflation, and Boom and Bust Cycles

Beyond Money - June 2, 2017 - 10:52

Abstract
Most economies suffer from a lack of liquidity, especially outside the large corporate and government sectors. This lack of means of payment (liquidity) is a fundamental cause of unemployment and failures of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). It generally derives from flaws that are inherent in the centrally controlled systems of money and finance and the increasing indebtedness of both the private and public sectors. The surrender of monetary sovereignty by national governments to central banks, and to currency unions, such as the Euro, and their increasing indebtedness, as in  as in the case of Greece, have made it virtually impossible for their economies to thrive.

This article describes how domestic or community liquidity, i.e., means of payment, that enable the process of reciprocal exchange of value, can be created by various entities at various levels, from communities and business associations, to municipal governments and agencies, to national governments. The main obstacles to their implementation are not economic, but organizational and political, yet there is still considerable leeway within which the value of local production can be monetized in the form of circulating private currencies and trade credits created within associations of buyers and sellers. This article describes how that can be done.

Read the complete article here.

This subject will be the main focus of my upcoming workshop in Greece, 16-23 June. You still have time to register and space is still available.


Categories: Blogs

The New Approach to Freedom audiobook

Matslats - May 31, 2017 - 05:11

E C Reigel quotes pop up all through the Money as Debt series, and he is a favourite of Tom Greco as well. This short book (< 50 pages) shows how, by adopting his alternative currency, the Valun, the peoples of the world can be free of government counterfeit money and hence the other evils of government.

Riegel's analysis (from 1949) comes across clearly, but as somewhat simplistic and sometimes grandiose. His condemnation of government and fiat money lacks nuance or historical justification.

Seventy years later his exhortations to set the market free leave a bitter taste, because neoliberal economics uses the same term to describe a global marketplace run by and for the largest corporations.

For this reason the book, as a political tract has dated badly, but it still describes excellently how money systems should work. The proposed Valun system reads like a lot of modern proposals from monetary cranks in that it optimistically describes the monetary mechanics but fails to appreciate the difficulty getting people to actually use it.

For me the books best sentiment is that we are the money power, and we have no-one to blame but ourselves for the system's corruption.

Full text is here.

AttachmentSize New Approach to Freedom.zip33.42 MB
Categories: Blogs

Software needed by the Credit Commons Collective

Matslats - May 20, 2017 - 02:31
The Credit Commons Collective is collaboration between, initially at least, three community currency networks.
  • CES has been providing community currency software-as-a-service since 2002
  • Community Forge has been providing free web sites for LETS and timebanks since 2009
  • CES Australia became independent from CES in 2011, to run its own local web server.

Despite their social impact, these networks find it very hard to engage software developers, to keep up to date, to embrace recent technologies, to be visible to donors. We see the froth of innovation all around us, beautiful new software galore but with zero users, while our networks which have outgrown what any single developer could support, are stagnating.

We want to transition to a new software architecture which

  • uses new languages and approaches and hence has a ready pool of volunteers.
  • allows our different local communities more ways to interact
  • is comprised of smaller, more modular components for ease of maintenance and ownership by many parties
  • has re-usable components so we don't have to reinvent the wheel.
  • allows members to be identifiable within the group, but private from the outside.
  • supports non-community currency groups with tools not tied to a particular ideology.

This probably needs to be done gradually, delivering benefits to users at each stage. So I'm going to describe the series of initiatives which we have in mind.

1. Mobile phone app.
Our platforms and other community currency platforms are way behind when it comes to mobile app development and we are surely failing to reach the young and the poor. However since the functions of community exchange are very similar in all platforms, we should all be able to use the same mobile app. It is a relatively simple matter to extend each platform to serve the same API, and much progress has been made on this. But we need app developers to finish it!
2a. Standardised noticeboard index
There are many, many advertising spaces on various web platforms from facebook.com to streetbank.com. But with different networks competing in the same spaces, users unable to see their next-door neighbours on different platforms are not being well served. We want to create a web service for indexing member ads accross platforms, with a REST interface to interrogate it. Ads should be geolocated and the host platforms should forward messages to the ad owners in order to restrict their identities only to the respective groups of which they are members. We want the ads themselves to be in a politically neutral space (like a blockchain) and to choose which sources of ads to index for our users. We think this tech would be widely useful, and if we had it right now we could migrate off CES ancient platform.
2b. App for searching indexed ads
Once the index service is available, we can populate it but we need an HMTL5/ajax search interface to query and display the results. This could be packaged as a standalone app, and we would want to use the same code in our existing platforms.
3. Standardised ledger service (becoming Credit commons service)
Each community and each platform currently does its own accounting in its own database. This works if you think a community currency is so specialised as to justify its own platform, but if you want to add a currency to an existing community it is less useful. We need therefore a REST service for community currency accounting, so that app developers do not have to build a back end - they can just plug in. Another reason for standardising the accounting function is to make transactions interoperable, as described in our Credit Commons white paper

We imagine other standardised REST services for group applications, for example savings pools accounting, forums, news & events, ridesharing, governance/decision-making. They would serve equally well both the outdated web platforms we now use and the more modern app-only approach.

The collective exists to offer software and coordination not only for complementary currency projects but for, broadly speaking, the rather dispersed relocalisation movement. We believe decentralisation is an important political goal, but not an absolute Good; coordination is critical within decentralised structures.

Will you help us? We are seeking long term volunteers to commit of course to writing and maintaining software, and also to spreading the word, building relationships, seeking funding, translating.

Categories: Blogs