Time-Based Currencies

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A particular kind of the Complementary Currencies, sometimes contrasted with Local Currencies


Definition

From the Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time-based_currency


"Time-based currencies value everyone’s contributions equally. One hour equals one service credit. In these systems, one person volunteers to work for an hour for another person; thus, they are credited with one hour, which they can redeem for an hour of service from another volunteer." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time-based_currency)


Discussion

Mira Luna:

"Timebank currency, often called time dollars, are relatively abundant in that they are only scarce when people perceive they don’t have time to provide service. If you have time and services that are valuable, there will be no limit to your earning capability. Time dollars can be saved but not invested to make more time dollars or speculated on, and if you go into debt someone else isn’t making money off your debt. Time dollars are usually egalitarian, valuing everyone’s time equally-one hour for one hour- making it difficult to extract profit from someone’s labor. The aim of time dollars is to help out your community and for your community to help you as well, moving away from fearful individual self-reliance towards community-based mutual aid, yet moving towards self empowerment in learning and practicing new skills. In this sense it leans away from labor specialization, in particular because you don’t make any more time dollars per hour if you become an advanced specialist in a lucrative field valued higher in the competitive labor market. However, if you are offering services on a timebank, of course you can own your means of production, including capital, with which you use to provide a service, but lots more capital won’t necessarily make you more time dollars. You might get more jobs if you are more efficient because of better equipment, but if you work faster, you get less time dollars per job. There is certainly a market involved. Members view profiles, skills, offers, and requests and then make hour bids, but there is less of a cut-throat competitive feel to get the most credits for your hour or to pay the least credits for the service you receive. These features are fairly standard for most kinds of mutual credit systems, although websites like Dibspace can encourage a competitive market attitude.

What about Ithaca Hours, Berkshares, and Cheimgauers (local paper currencies)? Ithaca Hours is a paper currency based time as the unit of account, with a limited geographic usage area. People who trade in Ithaca hours are encouraged, but not forced to pay people equally (one paper hour for one hour of work or its rough equivalent in goods based on a set hourly wage that does not change over time) when it seems fair, thereby supporting an egalitarian, noninflationary living wage. Berkshares are paper hours distributed in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts, equivalent to $USD, and can be bought with and redeemed for $USD. Cheimgauers are similar to Berkshares, but expire and so must be renewed with a stamp to be valid. This is a form of negative interest or “demurrage”, which discourages wealth accumulation and encourages circulation.

These three currency models are completely compatible with private ownership of the means of production, prices and wages, and creation of goods and services for profit in a market. None of these, however, can acquire interest. The money backing Berkshares in a bank can build interest, which can go to community projects, small business loans, or Berkshares administrative overhead funding, but users of Berkshares cannot accumulate interest in an account or investment. Ithaca Hours discourage making profit off others’ labor by encouraging equal pay for equal time. Cheimgauers make wealth accumulation nearly impossible with negative interest and create a sense that circulation of wealth through the entire community is what creates community and individual health and security." (http://trustcurrency.blogspot.com/2009/12/currencies-and-capitalism.html)


Examples

Apart from Time Banks:

"Other similar time exchange projects exist, going by other names like Fourth Corner Exchange, Village Networks, Richmond Hours, and Austin Time Exchange. Probably the largest time exchange in the world is the Furai Kippu in Japan. Fureai kippu (meaning “Caring Relationship Tickets”) was created in 1995 to help families who had migrated to other parts of Japan care for their elder family members that they became separated from. Seniors can help each other and earn the hour credits, family members can earn credits and transfer them to their parents who live elsewhere, or users may keep credits for when they become sick or elderly themselves. Free open source software is now available for any community to tailor a time exchange to its own needs and to reflect the local culture. Many of these projects also have regular in person meetings, swaps, potlucks, etc. to help facilitate exchange, trust and community building." (http://trustcurrency.blogspot.com/2009/11/time-exchanges-share-your-life-energy.html)



More Information

See the related entries on Complementary Currencies, Targeted Currencies, Local Currencies and Open Money