Citizens Economic Resource Currency in Barcelona

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"BARCELONA is set to launch its own currency next month – the REC, which residents can spend in 10 neighbourhoods at first and which may spread to more areas of the metropolitan zone. The aim is to promote local trade by urban dwellers being able to spend their 'resident coins' in shops, bars and other businesses in the city.

REC stands for Recurso Económico Ciudadano, or 'Citizens' Economic Resource', translated literally, and will be launched in May as a pilot within the Besòs 'orbital' area.

The exchange rate for the REC will always maintain parity with the euro and is entirely digital, with customers being able to spend using a REC App or via a QR code using blockchain technology.

Payments go straight to the retailer's mobile phone, instantly and without costs.

Managed by Novact, the social innovation association in Barcelona, the city currency falls within the European 'B-Mincome' social initiative and the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) programme, which is behind the idea of a minimum level of income being guaranteed to all residents – something which has only caught on in a very few areas in Spain but which the EU wants to see in place in all member States.

Barcelona city council says that from May, 25% of 'B-Mincome' benefits will be in RECs.

They expect around 100 shops, indoor market stalls and other local businesses to sign up.

Although anyone can use the REC, around €1.5 million will be invested in providing them to the 1,000 or so families within the Besòs orbital who currently receive social benefits.

The neighbourhoods covered make up around 7% of the city and are home to some 100,000 inhabitants.

They include the Ciutat Meridiana, Vallobona, Tore Baró, Roquetes, Trinitat Nova, Trinitat Vella, Baró de Viver, Bon Pastor, Verneda-La Pau and Besòs-Maresme.

The pilot will run until October 2019 and may continue thereafter if it is a success."