Alternate Forms of Currency

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Alternative forms of currency have particularly been important in small communities where there exists mutual trust. These communities can make use of the alternatives forms of currency to strengthen their economies and to ensure that the demand for the produce of those particualr communities goes high (Farrington 2008). Technology has also introduced more sohisticated from of alterantive currencies where people create online communities that use alternative forms of currency. In essence, communities can escape the tedious formalities, requirements and risks that are associated with conventional currency and enjoy the effeciencies associated with alternatives forms of currency while at the same time strengthening the local communities and enhancing business relations. This paper reviews the current state of knowledge of the benefits and limitations of multiple exchange movements as well as noting areas for future research. 2.0 Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) 2.1 Functionality Basically, LETS involves people living within a given community who have decided to form some sort of a system requiring membership and where the members trade with each other using the barter trade system. Hoeben (2003) outlines that in average members of such a community do not make more than one exchange every month. In essence, the economic viability of such a system is significantly limited. In practice the actual exhange of goods for other goods do not actually take place but the members invent some sort of virtual currency that is used to monitor the balance of the members (Greco 2001). The system does not charge or accrue any interest becaue its major role is to monitor the transactions by its members. LETS responded to the need of European communities during tough financial times and since then the system has gained significant fame. However, the founder of LEST outlined that for the system to be functional certain conditionalities had to be met. These conditionalities were that the system should be run professionally and that the cost of operation should be paid by the members via LETS currency, trade should only take place on the basis of free will, full transparency is expected with regards to the accounts of each member so that other members can know the persons draggin the system behind, the unit of currency should always be equal to the national currency (Douthwaite 2002). 2.2 Benetits of LETS 2.2.1 Wealth Creation for Communities LETS plays the important role of empwering local communities to create and accrue that stays within communities and functions to benefit the communities. According to Visser (2005), the wealth of a community is viewed in terms of the goods and services the community owns and not the money the community has in its banks. LETS places emphasis on the generation of goods and services because members will need these goods and services to be able to accumulate LETS credit that they can use to buy other goods and services. Each individual in the LETS community will be motivated to play an active role on the system by having as many trading partners as possible. In order to have trading partners one will need to have goods and services to offer the trading partners and to have enough credit to be