Let's make our own money.
It started as a school project by Christian Gelleri, an economics teacher in southern Germany who wanted to teach a group of 16-year-olds about finance in a novel way - by creating their own money, to be used in local shops and businesses. They called it the "chiemgauer" and eight years on, the project has turned into the world's most successful alternative currency.
The chiemgauer has managed to bring on board local co-operative banks and credit organisations, and it's even possible to pay in chiemgauer using a debit card, run by Regios, an association of co-operative banks.
What makes the chiemgauer different to conventional currency is that it automatically loses value if you don't spend it. Unlike traditional money that can be saved, the chiemgauer is only valid for three months - the idea being that it must be spent, thereby boosting the local economy. If the notes aren't spent, they can be renewed by buying a stamp that costs 2% of the note's face value - so over a year, the currency depreciates 8%. Notes can be renewed up to seven times....
The depreciation helps to accelerate circulation of the currency and boost local spending. Its advocates estimate that the chiemgauer circulates nearly 2.5 times faster than the euro. Participating shops and businesses have to pay a one-off registration fee of €100 and a monthly charge of €5 to €10 depending on their turnover. If they exchange chiemgauer into euro, they have to pay a 5% transaction fee. The charges are used to cover the scheme's running costs, with the remaining 60% going to participating charities. The chiemgauer network also provides participating businesses with an entry in their directory and website, as well as access to various promotions which can be a significant bonus. The organisation, together with Regios, GLS Bank, the department of employment and the European Social Fund, also provides interest-free chiemgauer denominated microcredits for small businesses.
That's extremely impressive for 16 yr olds. I've met 20 year olds who couldn't understand fractions. These kids created a system of currency and were able to actually get locals to get on board with it. I've got some Monopoly money. Do you think my local stores will take them in exchange for goods?