A digital local currency for Exeter: it's the next big step for the Exeter Pound.
We've only had our own money for a short while, but we're already seeing the benefits. Our paper notes are circulating around the city, bringing smiles, strengthening our local identity and keeping our money here in Exeter. It's time to take the currency to the next level! We're asking the community to help bring about this next milestone: a digital Exeter Pound.
The story so far...
Exeter launched its own paper currency in September 2015 and its reach has been growing ever since. There are now 131 local, independent businesses where shoppers can spend the local cash, and 9 exchange points across the city where the public can swap sterling for Exeter Pounds, at a 1:1 exchange rate. There is around £E30,000 in circulation.
So, why go digital?
The paper notes can only do so much. Yes, they give us an alternative to sterling, but only an alternative to the cash we carry around. With digital a whole new world opens up. For the individual you get your own Exeter Pound account so you can:
- exchange sterling for Exeter Pounds online (including on your smart phone) rather than going to an exchange point
- pay other users
- pay businesses for goods and services online and using your phone
- receive a portion of your pay in Exeter Pounds
And going digital means that in the future you'll be able to do things like pay your council tax, receive a portion of your salary in Exeter Pounds and much, much more. This means more and more of our money will stay circulating in our local economy instead of being siphoned off elsewhere.
Traders want to pay for local stock and supplies using Exeter Pounds, but paying in cash is slow, out-dated and pretty difficult (though some are managing it!). The digital Exeter Pound will mean trade between businesses is so much simpler. This will also shorten supply lines and help our local economy become more sustainable.
What's more, going digital brings about the possibility of an app! The app will be able to use GPS to help you locate Exeter Pound businesses and show you all the Exeter Pound special offers available around you. Then, you'll be able to use the app to pay for your goods and services.
What do you need the funding for?
The main thing we need the money for is the system itself: a piece of online and mobile banking software called Cyclos. It's been tried and tested by Bristol, Totnes and Brixton Pounds, so we know it will do the trick. Alongside this software we will update to a new website which will be more user-friendly and oriented towards this new payment system.
What about the rewards? Tell me more about them.
We're teaming up with lots of local businesses who accept the Exeter Pound, to bring you some exciting rewards that celebrate the spirit of having a local currency. Over the next few weeks, we'll be telling you more about our unique rewards, sharing photos and the stories of where they're from, as well as adding more rewards as we go. We'll be revealing a gorgeous new design, thanks to our friends at No Guts No Glory, which you can find on the postcards, prints, tote bags and tees. So stay tuned for more details!
In order to minimise delivery costs, if you're local to Exeter, we'll sort out the best way to get your rewards to you without posting. We'll be holding our first public meeting in mid-May, date TBA, and this will be the first opportunity for pledgers to get their hands on our Exeter Pound stash. If you aren't able to meet up with us at the meeting, we'll also be at the Respect Festival in Belmont Park, 11-12th June. If you aren't able to make these events, we have a marvellous team of volunteers who will be able to hand deliver the rewards, so don't worry. Whatever works for you, we'll be in touch after the crowdfund to sort something out! If you aren't local to Exeter, we'll need to add P+P to your reward. If you want to find out what this would cost before you pledge, get in touch and we'll work it out for you.
If you're interested in the low serial number set of notes, please note that these will be one of the first 100 sets that were printed.
The tees come in a variety of sizes, and in different fits, so if you want more details please do give us a shout, and we'll help you find the one that's best for you!
The Exeter Pound Mystery Box
The Exeter Pound Mystery box is the best of Exeter, in a box! You'll get a box full of local goodies worth over £70. Your box could contain:
- A trio of artisan soaps courtesy of Soap Daze
- An ethical, sustainable scarft from Sancho's Dress
- A yoga lesson with Look Within Yoga
- A £E15 Rugby World Cup commemorative note (no longer in circulation)
- A pair of sustainable socks from Quay Presents
- A food voucher for Two Coast County
- A photo shoot at Responsive Photography's Southernhay Studio PLUS prints*
- Chutnies and Jams from Little Bowhay
If you pledge £70 you will get a selection of some of the items above - so much mystery.
The No Guts No Glory design
What happens when you have reached your target?
If we reach the target we'll go into overfunding and we will start raising the funds for the regulatory aspects of having an electronic currency. We'll need to team up with an e-money institution or a local credit union who will manage the Exeter Pound accounts (this is a legal requirement).
Extra funding will also go towards app development. We'll need funding for an app hackathon to have local geniuses brainstorm how the app will work and for a senior app developer to oversee the project.
Remind me, why do we want to increase the amount of Exeter Pounds in circulation?
Good question. A local currency keeps money circulating in the local economy. A national currency does not.
- For every pound sterling you spend in a national chain shop, 35p is generated for the local economy
- For every Exeter Pound you spend in a local business, £1.73 is generated for the local economy.
But how can it be more?! This is the multiplier effect. When a chain shop receives your pound most of it leaves the area and often the country - only a small portion stays local in the form of wages and rents. When a local business receives your pound most of it stays in the area and is re-spent in local business. Those local businesses re-spend that money too, generating the £1.73 figure. Full details can be found here.
But more than that, a local currency is proven to strengthen social identity and community cohesion. Having our own money adds to Exeter's already incredible character and makes us feel a part of the city and its communities.
And, the Exeter Pound increases 'resilience' to global economic forces. That means, next time there's a global crash, because we have a strong local economy with local jobs and local suppliers we don't rely so much on global markets so it won't hit us so hard.
Plus, local businesses mean shorter supply chains reducing carbon footprints. It's a key to sustainable development.
And, Exeter Pounds give their user the power to choose where their money goes. Shopping's about where we choose to put our money as well as getting what we want. The Exeter Pound helps us support people in our city with our money.
Who made the video?
The video was made by University of Exeter student Pria Rai, project worker Hannah Watson and volunteer Mischa Jones. The short animated intro was created by Simon Tytherleigh. The interviewees are:
Steve Jones, a member of the steering group for the project. At Bookcycle.
Gill Baker, a community member and keen user of the Exeter Pound. At the Real Food Store.
Stuart Doderer, runs Green My Business, a local supplier. At the Prospect Inn.