A new, easy to create, type of alternative currency : Multi-coupon currency

Here is an idea for a multi-coupon currency, which is based on the concept that each person can issue coupon for services or goods they offer; coupons that can then be traded for other coupons.

An example of how this alternative currency works. We were at a gathering where 5 of us there formed a smaller group to launch this multi-coupon currency. Each of us in our group made coupons for what we could offer- like language lessons, a video workshop, massages, travel consulting, and intuitive readings. We then traded these coupons with others in our small group. You could trade for a coupon you did not necessarily want, because the idea was that you could keep trading these coupons for others. So lets say you traded your massage service coupon for a video workshop from someone else. You may not want the video workshop but you can go to others to trade this coupon.

We then went back to the larger gathering and started trading the new array of coupons we now had with others. Soon there were a lot of coupons flying around. Like others, I had people coming to me for services that I had not directly traded me. And I had coupons for a variety of services that I could use.

One of the powers of this multi-coupon system, which a normal local currency does not have, is that it is a mutual referral and marketing system – for instance in our case if you work to trade the video workshop coupon you received, you are in fact then marketing that workshop.

Another difference of this system from that of local currencies, is that there is no central group in charge of issuing this currency. Instead there are multiple points of creation and de-circulation of the currency. It empowers the individual to affect the currency in a system, to increase the abundance of the economy, by putting in its services into the mix.

A third difference, is that it can launched easily, as two or three people is enough to get this coupon currency going, and then when they talk to others about their coupons, it can easily entice others to come on aboard and throw their services into the mix. A new person who is approached may be hesistant to accept a local currency if only a couple of other people accept it. With a coupon currency, however, it is different, because they know they are going to be able to get a service with the coupon they accept in the trade.

A fourth difference is that the coupons help spread the word about each persons services, and provides an ongoing narrative of the gifts and interests of the community. And each person, who usually holds a multiplicity of coupons, acts as a co-facilitator of the flow of goods and services in the community.

Coupons already exist in our world, and people trade coupons. People at times also may trade one coupon for another. So the multi-coupon system one could say already exists in our world. The idea here is to focalize what is already happening, and create a higher density of such trades, organize circles and events at gatherings where people actively engage in such coupon generation and trade. Then a multi-coupon flow emerges in a community which becomes a significant economic system that creates new wealth.

This multi-coupon based currency is a system that is between that of one on one bartering and that of a local currency. It’s more formal than bartering and less formal than a local currency. Its more abstract than bartering, and less abstract than a local currency. In the sense that in bartering one is trading object for object. In multi-coupon currency one is trading one type of coupon for another type of coupon, or trading a type of coupon for service. In local currency you are trading a currency where the information about the specific service or good has been erased.

In agriculture it is beginning to be recognized that monocultures are not as healthy as a biodiversity of plants, for the different plants interact in ways to support each other. In city design neighborhoods which are mono-zoned are not as healthy, multipurpose neighborhoods flourish with more life (see Jane Jacobs work on cities). Bernard Lietaer, who has written  a number of books about complementary currencies, as well as help architect the Euro, talks about the danger of having only one type of money, we need a complexity of flows, and hence we need a number of different currencies ( heres a video of him speaking about this). When we have a multiplicity of coupons flowing, we have a healthy biodiversity of currencies.

This multi-coupon currency is useful at gatherings, conferences, schools, and organizations where it can get people quickly trading underutilized services to help unmet needs. One can also setup local fairs where people can trade in this multi-coupon currency and help a local community to increase its wealth by helping it access the richness of services in its community.

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2 thoughts on “A new, easy to create, type of alternative currency : Multi-coupon currency

    1. At the simplest level, one can simply write on notecards or post-its what the coupons are for. At the next level one can provide a template with designs on computer file which then one can write what the coupon is for, and print it out.

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