Can Local Currencies Transform Communities?
There are many reasons why people have a high level of interest in independent stores in their local community. These stores will often be able to offer goods, products or services that aren’t available anywhere else, which allows people a greater level of choice and variety in their shopping activities. There may also be a chance for people to find a friendly level of service and this is when local shops offering a specialist service come into their own. It may be cheaper or easier to buy a big brand name but knowing that you are supporting a local cause is often a great thing for many people and a lot of people like to feel as though they are helping out in this way.
There are plenty of statistics backing up the importance of shopping local but there is no denying that money earned in a community and then spent in local or community shops helps the community to prosper and develop. This is something that a lot of people are looking for and shops that can show they are part of the local community and support each other should be able to bring in additional business.
Currency in the community
This is the backdrop to a new development in Liverpool, with a local digital currency being launched. The currency, which is being referred to as the Colu (which refers to the Israeli firm behind the scheme) or the Local Pound Liverpool, can only be used in locally owned and run businesses. The concept of a local currency isn’t so strange, there are 10 locations in the UK which utilises this style of currency and there is a belief that money spent locally, stays locally, which can only be of benefit to everyone in the community.
Of course, that is the theory but not everyone believes that this is the case. The problem usually lies in the fact that not enough people are supportive of this style of currency to make it worthwhile. You can’t blame people for being cautious about this style of currency, not when money works so well, and you know that you can use it in every shop you may go to. If you are able to plan out your day or week and you know exactly what shops you will be in, you may have confidence about investing in this style of venture but if you are likely to use many shops that are not eligible for this style of venture, you may find it is much easier just to stick with cash.
This is the digital age
There is also the fact that this venture is purely digital, running on a modern smartphone app. While there is a growing number of people who use smartphone apps, not everyone has access to these devices which means that there is already a limiting aspect on who can use this service, which means that many firms will be unlikely to see the true benefit or potential in this style of activity.
There are clearly reasons why people would want to support the local currency and a distrust of banks is definitely a key factor. Many people have suffered due to the banking collapse and a lot of people don’t feel confident or content to use banks. This style of venture can be seen as striking a vote against the traditional methods of banking and this will be appealing to a great deal of people.
Every individual needs to weigh up their own needs but there is a lot to be said for supporting the local community and forging a stronger sense of unity. If you want to support your local community, this style of local currency may help you to boost the area and ensure that your whole area benefits.
At this point in time, many people are worried about spending and it may be that this style of app allows them to keep track of their spending in a more effective manner. If you are worried about having enough money left to deal with unexpected bills, it can be good to have back-up plans and mechanisms in place that will help you to remain in control of your finances.
There will be many people looking at this latest currency venture in Liverpool with great interest.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.