Complementary Currency Open Source Software in 2010

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* Article: Complementary Currency Open Source Software in 2010. Matthew Slater D 82-87

URL = http://matslats.net/ijccr-software-review [1]


Abstract

"This report briefly covers the field of non-commercial mutual credit software, discussing the issues and challenges the projects collectively face in meeting the needs of the movement. There is a clear cultural divide between commercial barter software which helps businesses exchange spare capacity within the law, and free open source projects which help neighbours to exchange under the radar of the tax man. There is almost no cross-fertilisation between nonprofit, idealistic, community projects, and the business barter. The aims of both cultures are very different, though their methods are similar." (http://www.ijccr.net/IJCCR/2011_%2815%29.html)


Summary of some of the main conclusions

Excerpted:

First conclusion: Cc activists are trawling the net trying to work out what each software package does, how they compare, and which is best for them. The only information available to them is in the form of a few poorly maintained lists on the web with no review and no attempts at balanced comparisons.* Implementers find themselves sifting through lists including dead projects, ready rolled services, and hard-core applications and there is very little actual information from users' perspectives.


Second conclusion: One of the major barriers to achieving scale in a decentralised mutual credit economy is the fundamental inability of members of currency groups to exchange value between groups. however it is critical for the usefulness of the network that members be able to trade outside their local groups, across the network firstly with adjacent local groups


Third conclusion: there is almost zero investment in software itself, any investment is always directed at implementations, and most of the software is built by busy people in their spare time. The movement is hardly organised enough to use its own issued money for funding (hat tip to CES), yet it needs highly professional skills to advance. ... Of all the software under discussion, only Cyclos is insulated from the possible demise of its primary programmer. All the others are still dependent on the altruist who initiated them, and have been unable to professionalise. No investment means no staff, no reliability, no guarantees for the future. A viable business model needs to be established for a CC software project.


Fourth conclusion:There is much talk about 'virtual' currencies. These may broadly fit the definition of complementary currencies, but they offer none of the benefits which we are concerned with. Some are direct proxies for hard currencies which are paid for in advance, and then spent using a plethora of widgets and enticements. The distance of virtual currencies from national currencies allows operators to introduce games and incentives which blur the value, and make it easier to spend.*** It should be possible to use virtual currency tools such as the Opensocial API to quickly build a CC ecosystem, though an appropriate context would need to be found. One proposal on my back burner is a mutual credit bank, which would offer secure hosting of many currencies via an API. There may be a social network on which all trading takes place; instead everyone would trade through payment widgets on their own sites. Facebook makes an obvious platform for a complementary currency, but it might be a false investment. (http://matslats.net/ijccr-software-review)