Community currencies try to answer specific societal needs. Community currencies are complementary currencies limited to a specific community. This could be geographical (local currencies), but also business-based or even online. They are specifically designed to meet the needs of a specific group and aim explicitly at contributing to more equal and sustainable societies. The idea behind this type of currency is thus to redesign money in order for it to better serve the society and the environment. Their design varies in function of their purpose; different purposes are identified by Community Currencies in Action :
1. Democratizing services and organizations
Community currencies can be a cost-effective tool to bring people actively into the process of solving the needs of their community. Example: time credits for volunteering encourage people to actively engage in their community while making services, such as elderly care more democratic. (Zeitvorsoge, Makkie)
2. Supporting the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) economy
Community currencies can serve as a means to promote independent shops over large corporations since they keep on circulating locally. They can also help SMEs support each other financially by lending and receiving credit, goods and services within the currency network. Finally, introducing a community currency allows raising people’s awareness of their consumer behavior and can improve community cohesion. Local currencies are an example of this.
(Bristol Pound, SoNantes, TradeQoin, Chiemgauer, Berkshares, Brixton Pound)
3. Countering inequality and social exclusion
Specially designed currencies can address inequality issues by giving everyone the chance to get involved in their community; for instance by rewarding participation in voluntary programs. (Spice Time Credits, Makkie)
4. Addressing environmental impacts
Community currencies can play a role in better valuation of environmental resources and incentivizing more sustainable behavior. The Belgian e-Portemonnee for instance rewards residents for environmentally positive actions such as composting. Reward currencies can also encourage businesses to adopt more environmentally sound practices.