Complementary Currencies are currencies that have different designs and serve different purposes than our conventional money. Complementary Currency is one specific form of money that exists as a supplement to our conventional (national) money. “A complementary currency is an agreement to use something else than legal tender (i.e. national money) as a medium of exchange, with the purpose to link unmet needs with otherwise unused resources” (Lietaer & Hallsmith 2006: 2). ‘Unused resources’ refers in this context to goods and services (labor) offered, where no demand for them exists within the market-economy mediated by conventional money.
Are there many types of complimentary currency?
In a word, yes. Some are backed by commodities; others by a national currency; others by collateral; others by a contract or a promise; some aren't backed by anything at all.
Why not just use money?
Money as we commonly know it, or legal tender, is a social construct. It serves the interests of some more than others. If you reflect on how our legal tender is created, it becomes easier to question whether it serves the interest of the parties creating it more than anyone else. There are other ways of facilitating exchange that serve the people in the exchange better than conventional money, as the means of exchange can be designed to primarily meet the needs of the people doing the exchanging over and above the people issuing the 'thing' or currency that gets exchanged.
Are complementary currencies legal?
Provided taxation laws aren't violated they are completely legal.
What complementary currencies do you intend on using?
At the most basic level, we are facilitating 'time in food out' schemes and enabling barter between members. We also have some fairly ambitious plans to create other currencies that will enable exchange across a variety of producers and suppliers, as well as aspirations to link currencies to interest payments from our renewable energy projects.
How do I find out more?
There are some informative resources on the internet (eg. Qoin.org, leitaer.com, complementarycurrency.org/)... if you want to join us in making this sort of thing happen in Swansea, please email us.