The success of the Bristol Pound has helped create a surge of interest in local currencies, and so a new initiative, the Guild of Independent Currencies, is being launched to bring together these emerging new currencies into a supportive network.
Enabling this launch will be a conference, the first of its kind in the UK, on 3rd and 4th November 2014 in Bristol, aimed at existing independent currency schemes and any individuals or groups who are thinking of creating one in their local area.
Since the Bristol Pound started, inspired schemes have started to pop up around the UK, places like Cardiff, Bath and Kingston are now seriously considering starting their own, and some like Exeter are well on their way, with plans to launch next year. Existing schemes like the Totnes Pound and Lewes Pounds are re-launching themselves with a new confidence and renewed vigour.
The development of the Guild of Independent Currencies, with the support of InnovateUK, the UK’s innovation agency, will make it as easy as possible for people to launch and operate their own independent currency: through shared technology, best practice and support.
The Guild already has a pilot electronic currency project currently underway in Totnes, details of which will be presented at the conference. This pilot works with the local Totnes Pound to bring online payment and mobile phone payment systems.
Graham Woodruff, Technical Director of Bristol Pound, who is leading the project said: “The Bristol Pound is showing the potential of electronic local currency to support independent traders and we have been approached by many other towns and cities, in the UK and beyond, wanting to set up something similar. This is where the conference and the Guild of Independent Currencies come in, and allowing us to share our knowledge and values to help others set up their own initiatives, and develop a mutually-supportive network of independent currencies.”
Local currencies build local economic resilience by supporting a diverse business community, keeping more money circulating locally, helping to stimulate cross community connections and encouraging people to think about how they spend their money.
The Bristol Pound Community Interest Company has been successful in implementing the UK’s largest complementary currency scheme in Bristol, which was specifically designed to help small businesses increase their turnover and to create a more robust local economy. Launched in September 2012, we now have around 650,000 Bristol Pounds in circulation with the numbers increasing each month. More than 750 businesses in Bristol use the scheme. Website:http://bristolpound.org/
The Bristol Pound is a local currency for Bristol, available to use in paper form or electronically through Bristol Pound accounts. Bristol Pound CIC is solely responsible for paper Bristol Pounds. Bristol Credit Union is responsible for all aspects of the Bristol Pound accounts and electronic payments.
Bristol Credit Union (BCU) is a financial services co-operative providing ethical, local banking services to over 9,500 people across the former Avon county. BCU is a strong, well capitalised Credit Union with over £5.75mn in assets. Bristol Credit Union Ltd is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and subscribes to the Financial Ombudsman Service. All eligible savings with Bristol Credit Union, including those held in Bristol Pound accounts, are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
The Guild of Independent Currencies is being launched at a conference held at the Watershed, Bristol on the 3rd and 4th November 2014. Website: http://guildofindependentcurrencies.org
InnovateUK is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the InnovateUK brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org.
The SBRI programme uses the power of government procurement to drive innovation. It provides opportunities for innovative companies to engage with the public sector and gain contracts to solve specific problems. Competitions for new technologies and ideas are run on specific topics and aim to engage a broad range of organisations. SBRI enables the public sector to engage with industry during the early stages of development, supporting projects through the stages of feasibility and prototyping. http://www.innovateuk.org/deliveringinnovation/smallbusinessresearchinitiative.ashx