Community currencies have been a part of human societies for centuries, but they are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, especially with the rise of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. In this tutorial, we will explore the concept of community currencies, their historical significance, and how they are evolving with the help of blockchain technology. We will also discuss the advantages of using blockchain, specifically Celo, for community currencies and how it enables greater financial inclusion and ownership for local communities.
We will start by introducing two projects that are actively involved in community currencies:
- Humanity Cash: A platform enabling communities to issue their own community currencies with local banks, such as community banks and credit unions.
- Resource: A web 3 banking alternative for communities, empowering them to trade resources and skills directly with a focus on local economic resilience.
Community currencies serve as monetary instruments that circulate within a specific locality or community. They help connect local economies and encourage spending within the community. Community currencies often aim to address economic and social challenges and promote sustainable, resilient local economies.
Blockchain technology, particularly the Celo blockchain, offers several advantages for community currencies. The decentralized nature of blockchain allows for greater financial inclusion and ownership for communities. Celo is specifically designed to provide mobile-friendly, easy-to-use platforms that abstract the complexity of blockchain technology for end-users.
In the past, community currencies relied on the goodwill of the community to succeed. However, with blockchain and community currencies on platforms like Celo, there is an opportunity to create a sense of ownership. Community members can actively participate in the issuance and management of their local currencies, fostering a deeper connection to their economic systems.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are gaining significant attention, primarily driven by speculative interest. However, their potential utility goes beyond mere speculation. NFT-backed communities have the power to organize resources and create collective value. By connecting local economies to environmentally conscious practices like carbon offsetting, community currencies can become more purpose-driven and rewarding.
The adoption of community currencies offers numerous benefits for both individuals and businesses. Locally, community currencies can incentivize sustainable practices and strengthen relationships within the community. For instance, businesses can offer cashback rewards in community currencies, encouraging local spending and economic growth.
Looking beyond local applications, community currencies can have a broader impact on national and global financial landscapes. Federated digital currencies, such as the proposed U.S. digital dollar, can integrate community currencies and enable seamless transitions between them. Moreover, community currencies can be backed by local assets like produce or carbon credits, providing a new dimension to regional financial ecosystems.
For community currencies to thrive, it is essential to strike a balance between doing good and avoiding excessive speculation. Ensuring community currencies are focused on promoting the community’s well-being rather than pure financial gains will contribute to their long-term success.
Community currencies, in combination with blockchain technology, offer exciting possibilities for empowering local economies and fostering financial inclusion. By abstracting the complexities of blockchain technology and focusing on real-world applications, projects like Humanity Cash and Resource are leading the way to a future where communities have greater control over their economic systems. The journey to realizing the full potential of community currencies requires a conscious effort to prioritize community values and maintain a sustainable, inclusive approach.