Today I visited the launch event for the Independent Money Alliance. On arrival at the event, I was surprised by its location; the London School of Economics. Although the event took place in the sociology department, this irony was not lost on the host; Professor Nigel Dodd, who described the school as a bastion of neoliberal economic orthodoxy. Anyway, the aim of the event was to promote the aims and objectives of the new Alliance of Independant Currencies.
The event was relatively well attended, and there were rumours circulating that Yanis Varafoukis may make an appearance. The initial networking allowed me to discover that local currencies interest a broad range of individuals and organisations. The first presentation outlined that there are a whole range of alternative currencies in the UK, including the traditional timebanks and LETS, through to local currencies and cryptocurrencies. It also recognised that these kinds of currency movements need to engage to a broader range of organisations and institutions; including food, transport and politics. This echoed other work I have seen recently on the idea of a foundational economy. The organisers then presented a nine-point manifesto, with some very broad aims and objectives. It then opened the floor for discussion.
I believe that the most interesting element of this event came from the discussions. There was an obvious recognition that this sector is still within its infancy. There was a little of bemusement about the points in the manifesto, which lead to some interesting discussions about value – see an earlier blog on this subject. I believe that these types of alliances are needed to encourage this kind of debate, however it should shy away from promoting a certain model or approach. Although this was not explicit, the founding organisations were Sterling-backed voucher schemes of one kind or another.
The interest in cryptocurrency was positive, with a couple of attendees engaged in cryptocurrency projects and other UK blockchain activities. There was definitely an desire to consider a cryptocurrency type scheme used at a local level. I believe that my own research is starting to establish that this is an avenue worth exploring. I have mentioned before about Hullcoin, but it doesn’t have to be based on distributed ledger technology. Ultimately any currency is socially constructed. Any secure token that could be used as a means of an exchange could be used to support transactions at a local level.
The Independent Money Alliance is now planning a conference in Glasgow to bring together different currency schemes from across the UK and Europe. Details will be available on their website soon.
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