Montseny Eco Social Currency Network in Catalonia
"In 2009, between 27th and 29th December in Alt Montseny, the first free-coin1 seminar took place. It was a meeting that signified the start of social currency coordination across Catalonia. The seminar established the principles for further expansion of social currency networks in Catalonia and other territories.
Prior to this, since January 2009, the Montseny eco-network2 was already active as was Tarragona3, an eco-network which became operative in July 2009. During this time, several self management experiences have taken off, as have initiatives that promote the use of social currency via eco-networks coordinating in a decentralized fashion across the territory.
This chronological account aims to be a generic and financial evaluation of an emerging economy based on barter, cooperation and communal exchanges, which is moving forward slowly but steadily.
The Eco was the name given to coins, or monetary units. It was a means to facilitate decentralized and multi-reciprocal exchanges, based on communal agreements on its properties and functions as a mixed monetary system.
- Mutual Credit. Implementing interest-free currency, operating under negative balances and mantaining cero global network balance.
- Currency Exchange. To allow exchange between fiat currency (euros) and social currency, both via exchange bureaus and at CIC Fairs, on an initial 1 to 1 basis in order to facilitate exchange.
- Online System. To manage balances and other transactions, allowing connectivity and inter-operability between various networks as well as being compatible with the option of developing printed currency.
- CIC-Organised fairs as periodical local spaces in which to meet and trade.
- As permanent exchange stores (Co-operative stores)
The Eco, with it’s many social currencies, the network in which products, services and knowledge are exchanged, and the promotion of self management and cooperation, are all parts of the environment or eco-system known as the Eco-Network(ecoxarxa)."
The eco-network is formed by its soverign assembly, together with all the people and collective projects that form the network. It is through this interaction between people and projects, placing needs and abilities in common, that the Eco-Network manifests itself as a community supply network.
The CES has prevailed as a management system or accounting of exchanges, which allows tracking transactions and monetary flows seamlessly.
This system was developed from South Africa, driven by Tim Jenkins and currently serves 728 exchange networks worldwide, a third of them in the Iberian Peninsula.
This software offers a high level of functionality as well as being fully compatible with the mixed system of social currency chosen.
- Social coins in the CIC:
The form taken by the Echo in the Catalan Integrated Cooperative was the ECOcoop, following the same general criteria of other ecoxarxes. It basically creates a decentralized manner by the participants themselves, when they perform exchanges while changing hands.
Later, it became necessary to create the ecobàsic, a separate record to facilitate the redistribution of resources within the CIC, with the primary objective of ensuring access to basic needs of the people involved with the common. This currency is backed with a budget in euro, which ensures the provision of goods to supply those committed to the common, is not cumulative and only serves to access basic needs.
The ecobàsic was really useful for a whole period in which the level of acceptance of social currency was limited when ECOcoop could not guarantee an adequate supply of redistribution and social currency. In any case, in the future should assess its usefulness as a tool for redistributing resources and equitable community."
Assessment of difficulties, obstacles and gaps
Experience comes from learning, which is why you need to do a compilation of relevant issues to help evaluate this experience and move on:
Creation, issue and redistribution of money without real backing for goods and services, such as reciprocity (in the form of basic allowance) for the dedication provided to common.
Was a major departure from social currency to other ecoxarxes with compromised productive projects, which were those that could have real capacity to supply.
Some producers initially pushed for the social currency when there was not yet a sufficiently strong network from which supplies and meet their other needs. This made positive balances accumulate social currency, unable to give out.
Some central purchasing more socially accepted currency of the producers really accepted without it were supported in tangible goods and services or a budget euros. It generated a greater output euros and an accounting imbalance.
Accounting and resource management inexperience. There were difficulties in economic and financial balances: spreadsheets by hand, inexperience, etc.
All this triggered a blockage in the use of social currency, both for lack of confidence, as by material failure to give out, generating accepting only small percentages." (http://cooperativa.cat/en/social-currency-expands-at-the-hands-of-self-management/)