What are the benefits to you of a local currency? How does it serve our businesses and our community?
The Cornish Tiger - An Introduction
It is intended that the Cornish Tiger will be a currency used locally, complementing the national currency (Sterling) rather than replacing it. It is likely that its initial form will be a paper currency, with some form of digital use being developed as soon as possible. This may utilise mobile phones to make payments.
It's a fact that the diversity of local businesses in Cornwall is being reduced over time by the dominant national and international retail model. This process doesn't only put local companies out of business, these large firms are likely to leave an area in times of difficulty, taking jobs and their services with them (For example in 2016 B&Q recently left Penzance).
A trusted local currency, properly designed, will tend to help support a diversity of local small businesses in the local economy. This would help to provide a resilience that would otherwise be lacking.
This is all achieved through "plugging the leaks" in the local economy "bucket". In contrast with the national currency, which when spent with a multinational or national company has much of its value transmitted away from Cornwall, the Cornish Tiger will only be spent with local enterprises and will therefore tend to retain wealth within the local economy. The Brixton local currency has shown that of £1 sterling earned, 85 pence leaves their local economy. If those earnings are in Brixton pounds (that's their local currency), about 20 pence leaves. The other 80p continues to circulate, so adding to the amount of local goods sold. This amounts to a considerable "Multiplier Effect".
Why the Bristol Pound works
How the Brixton Pound works
It is time for a local currency to be made available for use in Cornwall. It won't be a totally new idea. Local currencies have been around for many decades and exist across the world, including in Germany, USA, France, Argentina, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. In this country they are being used in places like Bristol, Exeter, Brixton, Lewes, Stroud and Totnes.
Why the Cornish Tiger?
The colour suggested by a tiger is the same as the Cornish flag. It was also felt that a tiger is powerful, has freedom, can survive against the odds and is beautiful. Also, imagine paying for something in Tigers! We found it a cool name!
It is likely the Cornish Tiger would initially be launched as a fairly limited issue, after gaining the willingness of a small number of businesses in the local West Cornwall area to try it out. This should enable any initial difficulties to be dealt with and the trust essential for a currency to flourish to begin to build.
As more local firms accept the Tiger, more individuals will be encouraged to shop with them and a cycle of growth should be established. In addition more layers of use will be encouraged as local suppliers to retail firms are persuaded to enter the scheme. By introducing a digital form of the Cornish Tiger, the local economy should experience higher velocity
For a good introduction to community currencies and their benefits, you can read the free, downloadable publication People Powered Money published by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in the UK at neweconomics.org.
For a really interesting illustrated history of Cornish currency, including the Cornish penny, dyner, banks, tokens and banknotes, you can read more at Pensilva Local History Group.
There are actual digital platforms already in use and available to new local currencies, for example Cyclos.org, which is used by Bristol Pound, and communityforge.net, used by many LETS schemes. LETS stands for a Local Exchange Trading Scheme, a local membership group which typically has more in common with a Time Bank than with a local currency.
It has to be stated that at present the small core group has only met on a few occasions, but some of us attended the April 2016 local currencies conference in Liverpool arranged by Guild of Independent Currencies and are reading a short downloadable guide to setting up a sustainable enterprise. Please contact us if you would like to attend a meeting or contribute, or even join a mailing list, as there is much exciting and interesting work to be done!
A mythical creature made real by a currency for Cornwall - The Cornish Tiger...
Want to get involved?
Email us on hello[at]kernowpound.com - you will soon be able to join our email list, and our website is on the way. Please join us.
The tiger is coming...