We are delighted to present a guest blog written by Brett Scott – a campaigner and writer who works in alternative finance and financial activism. In the following Brett talks about his new book The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money, why it features the Brixton Pound (B£) and what makes this local currency so attractive.
The Brixton Pound Economy, featured in my new book
by Brett Scott
There are two sides to starting an alternative currency. Firstly, you need vendors who will accept it. Secondly, you need people who will use it to buy things. Ideally, over time, you want those two to form a close-ended loop, such that the people who accept it are the ones who also use it.
It takes time to build those loops though, and for some time I’ve been using the B£ to pay for things, but without accepting it. I’ve mostly been using it to pay for coffees, and I’ve been drinking copious amounts of coffee because I’ve been writing a book. Now it brings me great satisfaction to announce that I will be closing the loop, and will be accepting B£s from people who want to buy the book!
The book is called The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money. It’s about the global financial system, how we can explore it, disrupt the negative aspects of it, and build positive new models of finance.
It just so happens that the book also features the B£ as a case study of a local currency. I discuss two simple lessons drawn from it in the context of a broader discussion on alternative forms of exchange.
The first lesson is that style and symbolism matters: The B£ team has put a lot of effort into making sure the notes are meaningful to local people, and that they look beautiful. It sounds simple, but this is actually crucial in getting people to buy into the concept of an alternative currency. It has to look and feel cool.
Secondly, functionality matters. The notes are great, but the B£ pay-by-text system is awesome. For small day-to-day transactions it’s actually more efficient for me to store money on my phone in the B£ system than to fiddle about with debit cards.
So, in an ideal world, what would I love to see going forward:
- Firstly, I’d love to see a B£ ATM, right in the centre of town next to those bank ATMs. It could be used to both draw out the notes and also to load money onto the pay-by-text system
- Secondly, I’d love a swish new mobile phone app to further streamline the pay-by-text system and that could alert me to shops that accept B£
- Thirdly, I’d love the option of a B£ savings account, and B£ financial instruments for me to invest in. Anybody up for designing B£ bonds?
- Fourthly, I’d love to see the B£ pay-by-text system come to function as a quasi bank account for low income people who have minimal access to normal bank accounts, a bit like MPesa in Kenya does
… but I guess I’ll leave these for the team to work on!
In the mean time, if you’d like to see the book, and perhaps use B£s to buy it, see it here.
Thank you Brett for your thoughts and ideas! We are currently planning to implement some of them and are continuously working on how to develop the B£ further!
Use your B£s to buy Brett’s book by simply using B£ Pay by Text (username BrettScott) and send him your contact details via ‘brett [dot] scott [at] cantabgold [dot] net’.