The Future of Money

Money, Systems thinking

Key quote? Allow different types of money to compete in the same way that markets compete, to open up new ways of doing business.

The Future of Money on Vimeo

Ed Dowding

Ed Dowding

Founder, strategist, writer, gadfly, TED talker, world-record holder, and (foolishly) reality-TV farmer. DOES: Innovation, Product, Advocacy THINKS: Regenerative Systems, Institution design, 300 year horizons


  1. A comment from an email I received about this:

    > Allow types of money to compete. Hmmmmm.
    > That would be interesting to see.
    > Not sure how it would help.
    > Good to see thinking outside of the box though.
    > As we said about so many things – might end up with the same thing roughly as now – but from a position of choice.
    > Sounds crazy. But might just work.

    Any my reply:

    Dude did you not read Ecology of Money?! The WIR bank in Switzerland? Or the currrency which brough a tough in Austria out of depression to full employment in 6 months in the 30s?


    Because it was a depreciating currency, it circulated with rapidity, boosting the local economy. Also, not only did people merely pay their current taxes in the currency, but also discharged their tax arrears. Further, many paid their taxes in advance because it was financially advantageous.

    The ‘danger’ of its success prompted the central government to ban it.

    The most important lesson, however, is that a depressed community in an apparently hopeless situation found a way of ending the seemingly insoluble problems of unemployment, local decline and lack of a reliable tax base, symbiotically through the use of community-owned currency.

    The prime candidate for the cause of community and regional decline is the centralised banking and money system. By definition, ‘national’ money is political.


    Although WIR started with only 16 members, today it has grown to include 62,000 — among whom is traded approximately CHF 1.65 billion annually (as of 2004).[3] The available money supply (currency code CHW) was 839 million equivalent Swiss francs (as of 2005). [4]

    The WIR bank is a not for profit bank. It serves the interest of the clients, not the bank itself. It is a very stable system, not prone to failure as the current banking system is. It remains fully operational even in times of general economic crisis. WIR may have contributed to the remarkable stability of the Swiss economy, as it dampens downturns in the business cycle.[5]


    The economy in Brixton has done very well since the introduction of its local currency.

    Brixton Pounds are not just sitting in people’s wallets. People are using them every day all over Brixton, with a total of B£3,500 spent in Brixton businesses on average every week.

    Some of you will already be making a quick calculation and working out that this isn’t much in terms of the grand scheme of Brixton’s local economy. But having these B£ in their tills can make all the difference to how businesses buy their supplies. Businesses can’t spend this money in Tesco or Cash and Carry, so they have been looking for ways to source locally. We’re currently running a project to link up B£ businesses with local B£ suppliers and services. This has the effect of ‘plugging the leaks’ in the local economy and keeping money circulating.

    For example, Brixton Cornercopia spend their B£ on fresh produce from A&C continental, fresh vegetables from the market and fresh bread from Wild Caper. Mango Landin’ buy flowers from Florista outside Brixton Tube and cutlery from Morley’s. The list goes on. Some of this trade would have taken place anyway, of course,but we know that much of it wouldn’t. Most businesses are more than happy to spend locally if they can find good products at a good price, but often it isn’t until they have a large number of Brixton Pounds and we help to identify the right produce for their needs that they get around to doing so. As Dario from Bellatoni’s Italian Restaurant in Brixton Village put it, “The Brixton Pound definitely makes me think about where I shop and find suppliers.”

    It’s much harder to prove whether the Brixton Pound is increasing how much shoppers spend locally . What we can say is that some Brixton Pound businesses say the scheme has brought them new customers. When we asked Ossie from Ossie’s Fresh Ginger why he accepts the Brixton Pound, he said “it does so much to promote local business. I do find that the more I tell people that I am part of the scheme, the more they are willing to accept the produce because people do feel passionately about the state of the economy in Brixton.” Barney from Brixton Cycles co-operative agreed, saying “the Brixton Pound is fantastic marketing for us.”

  2. I did read the ecology of money
    and as I pointed out at the time found so many assumptions that seemed to me to be incorrect
    which I can’t remember now – but pointed out to you at the time
    that I fear I was not convinced.
    There may be a new way.
    It may even be just to reform what we have.

    Any new system must take into account the huge drivers of the money go round –

    Fewer, not more middle men.

    For example someone spends 25 years saving for pension with growth of pension at say 4%
    and 25 years paying off mortgage which costs them say 6%
    Would they not be better off simply paying off the mortgage? Or perhaps they could get tax relief on their mortgage.

    Was the main problem just low interest rates fueling inflation – but it just wasn’t called inflation but ‘house price rise’.

    The alternatives to current system seem to usually kick in when there is nothing left to lose.
    Or they have things like inbuilt lifetimes.

    Anyway all in all – anything that does not mention pensions, mortgages, exchange rates is no good to me. Even if only to explain how such things would be replaced, they must be involved in the answer.

    Ideally I would love an Occams razor style answer. i.e fewer not more currencies.
    Stability I believe is the key to much of life. Then you can plan and invest time and energy.


  3. 1 Point from Metacurrency –
    TRUST from couch surfing allows you to borrow a drill is interesting.

    Extended trust networks already exists of course –
    Network of trust – me asking for a electrician on Facebook.
    to Nike trying to get you to like it’s Facebook site
    or Red Bull having pretty friendly girls who know people at Uni.
    To Obama saying you can trust me with the economy and your safety – I am not a muslim, I am a christian and american.
    To Jews saying yes you can borrow from me.
    Reviews from independent sites.
    Risk profiles.
    All about trust.
    It already has a value. Maybe the wrong value.

    We know this.

    Might be something there for Ebay – Couch surf – Facebook connections trust network /credits.

    All the other examples on the site are covered by ‘money’ – money is used exactly as a go-between. It is itself a meta currency.
    Resources. Peoples time. Peoples talents. Peoples Trustworthiness. All this is translated via money.
    It is why people put a price on things. Ultimately this is a way of charging for your time which ultimately the source of so much wealth.
    Natural resources are priced. They may just be undervalued. That is not per se the prob with the system, but the application of it.

    So – bigger tax on overfishing, penalties for dumping sewage etc. Carbon they are trying to do.


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