Beth Simone Noveck and Victòria Alsina in Forbes: The Rise of Civic Cryptocurrency

Michelle Winowatan — April 13, 2018

The potential of cryptocurrencies to disrupt the financial sector has generated a significant amount of conversation in recent years, with strong opnions coming from both optimists and skeptics.

Looking beyond finance to issues of civic life and governance, Beth Simone Noveck and Victòria Alsina, writing in Forbes, explore a number of exmamples where cities are using cryptocurrencies “to promote local economic development, foster active citizenship, and invest in sustainability while building a sense of community cohesion.” In these cases, city governments issue “alternative currencies” or “social currencies” as a means to pay city officials and also as an incentive for citizen engagement.

These examples have been found from Bristol to Berkeley to Toronto:

  • “Good money, made by the people, for the people of Bristol,” announced the Bristol City Council in Britain as a catchy leitmotif to promote the Bristol Pound.
  • “We like to participate” is the motto to promote the Chiemgauer in Rosenheim and Traunstein counties in the German region of Bavaria.
  • In Toulouse, France, they have the Sol-Violette and their slogan is “more than just a means of payment.”
  • The WIR Bank in Switzerland, the Ekhi in the Basque Country province of Bizkaia, and the Grama in the Catalan town of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, both in Spain, are yet more examples.

Noveck and Alsina further advise:

“Putting a price on participation will have its challenges, to be sure. Some will argue that participating in the life of one’s democracy should be its own reward and an obligation incumbent upon each of us that should not be compensated. However, given the economic benefits to the local community of using civic currency, it would make sense to test the impact.”

Read more here.