From October 20th, residents in Totnes will be able pay for local goods and services with electronic Totnes Pounds using their mobile phones, they will also have access to online banking and payment facilities, all in Totnes Pounds. This technology has been supplied by the Bristol Pound as part of a project to enable other towns to start and develop their own local currencies.
Chantelle Norton, from Totnes Pound says “Since the relaunch of the Totnes Pound in May we have seen a resurgence of interest in the local currency with 90% of businesses in the High Street now using them, we are delighted that we now have an electronic version which we will greatly increase its use and benefit to the local independent traders.”
In Bristol, around 500 business use electronic Bristol Pounds which they use to pay suppliers, local taxes and is a simple way for them to take payments from customers. Having the ability to use the currency online greatly increases the volume of transactions that can be made and there has been over £650,000 worth of Bristol Pounds issued in the last two years. It is hoped Totnes will see similar success.
Graham Woodruff, Technical Director of Bristol Pound CIC says “Other towns and cities in the UK are watching Bristol and learning how a local electronic currency can support independent traders and benefit the community as a whole.”
“We are now able to offer our technology and expertise to other schemes, and especially delighted to be able to help Totnes in this project after being so inspired by the Totnes Pound in our original decision to launch a currency in Bristol.”
This opportunity comes through funding from the UK’s innovation agency, the InnovateUK as a result of a SBRI competition called ‘Re-imagining the High Street’ and means that the Bristol Pound can provide an electronic platform for other local currencies.
Next month, independent currency schemes from around the UK are coming to Bristol for a conference, the first of its kind in the UK, aimed at existing independent currency schemes and any individuals or groups who are thinking of creating one in their local area. This surge of interest will see a number of other towns following the lead from Bristol and Totnes in the coming year.
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. 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