Sunday, December 15, 2013

Alternative, Community and Private Currencies

We've looked at the phenomena a few times, links below.
From the TED blog:
“Is there a reason for governments to be in charge of money?” asks Paul Kemp-Robertson in today’s talk. Judging by the new raft of alternative currencies—from digital coins to point systems that reward customers of a certain brand—the answer might someday be “no.” Again.

As Kemp-Robertson suggests, many people seem to trust brands more than governments these days. Since currency is, in a sense, an expression of the brand value of a government, why shouldn’t commercial brands also make currency?

Kemp-Robertson reminds us that, once, they did. As an example, before the US Civil War, 1,600 different corporations, mainly private banks, issued paper banknotes. The government only issued coins, a mere 4 percent of American currency. The Civil War upended that system (read more) and eventually led to the creation of a single currency issued by the Federal Reserve System.

Here, learn more about 10 kinds of alternative currency in use today, from Kemp-Robertson’s talk and beyond.
  1. Bitcoin. The world’s best-performing currency, according to Kemp-Robertson, Bitcoin’s value is tied to the performance of a computer network. It’s “completely decentralized—that’s the sort of scary thing about this—which is why it’s so popular,” Kemp-Robertson says. “It’s private, it’s anonymous, it’s fast, and it’s cheap.” Bitcoin is a case study in the increasing desire to place trust in technology over traditional institutions like banks.
  2. Litecoins. A virtual currency based on the Bitcoin model, Litecoins have a higher limit: “The number of coins that can be mined is capped at 21 million Bitcoins and 84 million Litecoins,” explained a recent Wall Street Journal post, which also noted that Bitcoins are worth more and currently accepted more widely.
  3. BerkShares. While Bitcoin and Litecoins are worldwide currencies, BerkShares are hyper-local: they’re only accepted in the Berkshires, a region in western Massachusetts. According to the BerkShares website, more than 400 Berkshires businesses accept the currency, and 13 banks serve as exchange stations. “The currency distinguishes the local businesses that accept the currency from those that do not, building stronger relationships and greater affinity between the business community and the citizens,” the site reads.
  4. Equal Dollars. Philadelphia is also trying out a local currency with Equal Dollars. When you sign up to participate, you receive 50 Equal Dollars; to earn more, you can offer your own possessions in an online marketplace, volunteer or refer friends.
  5. Ithaca Hours. Another hyperlocal currency, Ithaca Hours—usable only in Ithaca, New York—also hopes to boost “local economic strength and community self-reliance in ways which will support economic and social justice, ecology, community participation and human aspirations.” (For a full list of local currencies in the US, go here.)
  6. Starbucks Stars. Use of Starbucks’ Stars is limited not to a particular geographic locality, but to the corporate ecosystem that is Starbucks. Once you get a Starbucks Card, you can earn Stars—which buy drinks and food—by paying with the card, using the Starbucks app, or entering Star codes from various grocery store products. According to Kemp-Robertson, 30 percent of transactions at Starbucks are made using Stars.
And from Wikipedia: 
List of community currencies in the United States








...Hundreds More

HT on both: ZeroHedge
Infographic: Past, Present and Future Money (topologies, powers, trends)
So You Want to Invent Your Own Currency
"Prepare for the coming deluge of digital currencies—and meet the people who would control them"
Bitcoin Mania:You Can Actually Create Your Own Crypto-Currency, For Free
What If Google Launched a Currency? (GOOG)
Amazon is Introducing "Amazon Coins" Virtual Currency (AMZN)
Bacon as Currency: Testing the Limits of What It Can Buy
BANK RUN: "Second Life Closes Banks"
European Towns Creating Own Currencies