Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bristol Pound



The Euro is in trouble, the world's financial system is in turmoil and an English city believes it is the perfect time to go it alone and print its own currency. And so, Bristol city folks are introducing their own currency – the Bristol Pound – with the backing of the city council and a credit union. This is a complimentary currency that can be used alone or alongside sterling, to encourage and strengthen economic ties amongst the locals, both residents and traders

By definition, Bristol pounds must stay in the city. Spend a tenner in a Bristol bakery, and they must use it to pay their suppliers or staff. In turn, those companies will have to use the money within the local economy. Ciaran Mundy, the director of the Bristol Pound explains: "We'll be driving more business to independent traders, and ensuring the diversity of our city, which is one of the things people love about Bristol."

How does it work?

The Bristol Pound will exist in £1, £5, £10 and £20 denominations. A Bristol pound will be worth exactly £1 sterling.

People will open an account with the Bristol Credit Union, which is administering the scheme, and for every pound sterling they deposit, they will be credited one Bristol pound. This money can then either be cashed, or used electronically to pay bills online or even with a mobile phone. Since the money is held by the Bristol Credit Union, which has Financial Services Authority (FSA) backing, it will have the same protection as any other deposit account. The standard government scheme guarantees up to £85,000 per person.

Bristolians have been invited to help design the new notes. The organizers have already created a logo, and produced security features to counter forgery. There is a silver hologram design, a gold foil strip with serial numbers embedded, and other features which are impossible to reproduce. The design competition will run until the end of February, and the notes are expected to be launched on May 21, 2012. Kindly visit http://www.bristolpound.org/
to learn more.

Already more than 100 businesses have signed up. A family bakery, the Tobacco Factory Theatre, the Ferry company, Thatcher's Cider, and dozens of small cafes. Bristolians can even pay local business rates in the local currency. The council leader, Councillor Barbara Janke, is fully behind the scheme.

I think this is a great idea and especially in assisting independent businesses within a geographical area (in this case, Bristol) to not only survive but prosper. This in turn allows the local economy to stay vibrant because the money stays within the Bristol area itself. As Janke said, "This is a chance to demonstrate the economic resilience of the city”. The success and even long-term viability of the Bristol Pound depend on residents’ level of support. At least I know that if the locals really want to help the independents and by extension, the Bristol economy, they can quite literally put their money where their mouth is!

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