Community Currency Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. How does Community Currency work?
    Upon accepted membership in a business network (Registered Community Based Organization), a member is audited and endorsed by other businesses to be allocated Community Currency. Community Currency serves as a voucher or promissory note for members' goods and/or services and can be used to account for barter exchanges among network members. It is the accounting mechanism of reciprocal exchange. Terms and Conditions for CC Vouchers usage can be found here
  2. What is the value of a Community Currency compared to the National Currency?
    As with all our community currencies, the Bangla-Pesa is a voucher for goods and services of participating businesses and is denominated in 5, 10, 20 and 50 Bangla. These vouchers are worth exactly the same amounts in Kenyan Shillings and are backed by the goods and services of the issuing business network. The Bangla-Pesa, Gatina-Pesa, Kangemi-Pesa and so on are all vouchers on parity 1:1 with the Kenyan Shilling. Note that Kenyan Shillings are not exchanged directly for Community Currency or visa versa.
  3. How does one become a member of a Business Network?
    You must fill out a detailed registration form and be endorsed by four other members of the network, these four other members act as your guarantors and are responsible for your conduct in the network. After reviewing your application and guarantors a committee may accept or reject your application. Should you be accepted you will have to be trained and then allotted Community Currency which you agree to back with your goods and services according to the statues of the network. A member must be able to both spend and receive Community Currency locally for her or his goods and services.
  4. If I accept Community Currency (CC) - how am I going to buy more stock outside the local area? (i.e. how will I get the National Currency (shillings) I need?)
    Members only accept as much Community Currency as they can use in one day for local needs like your food and water. Each network's statutes state that no one should have a total balance of more than 400 CC. If a member has a balance approaching 400 CC they need to spend it before they accept more. (Members always make sure to have enough Kenyan Shillings to buy the stock they need). Generally members accept and use about 70 Community Currency per day, this causes a roughly 20% increase in local sales and no decrease in the use of Kenyan Shillings (according to survey data from Feb 2014). Community Currency is for daily spending connected to a businesses excess capacity, which enables them to save their Kenyan Shillings for savings and investment.
  5. Who is backing Community Currency?
    Each member agrees to back 400 CC with their goods and services when they register. In addition each member has a guaranteeing group of 4 members that endorse and back their membership and Community Currency.
  6. How can this help my business and what are the economics benefits?
    Community Currency (CC) is meant to help businesses and schools utilize their excess capacity and hence increase sales and spending in a designated area. This increase in trade allows for Kenyan Shillings to be used for buying things outside the communtiy and investing in education and business. It is a circulating credit-like voucher with no interest among the businesses and schools of an area. For instance a bicycle operator may have the capacity for 20 customers a day, but in general only has 10. Now he can give rides to those businesses in exchange for goods and services they have in excess, such as a woman who has extra tomatoes to sell or a teacher who has time for more private lessons. This increases the overall efficiency of the market and helps the community weather poor economic periods and overall stabilizes the local and National economy of Kenya.
  7. How can non-members take part?
    Community Currency helps stabilize the those businesses that are the foundation of the local economy. BBN members can also setup community service events which non-members can take part in.
  8. How can I get more Community Currency?
    By selling your excess goods and services to those who have it. Note that Community Currency must be guaranteed by each member's commitment and ability to redeem it's value in goods and services.
  9. Does Community Currency replace National Currency?
    No. Community Currency merely assists members in trading their excess capacity, such that they can use their shillings for savings and investment. It is complementary to the Kenyan shillings and does not replace it. We expect an overall rise in Kenyan Shilling use in the area due to more efficient markets, business practices and investments.
  10. How much Community Currency is in circulation in Kenya?
    Community Currencies (CCs) using the Bangla-Pesa model are in use in 5 Informal Settlements in Kenya. In each community roughly 100 members are audited and guaranteed by four other businesses for 400 Kenyan Shillings worth of Community Currency. Since Community Currency is only a voucher or promissory note, the amount in circulation is equal to what the network commits to backing and is limited by local production levels. Therefore in each community there is roughly 40,000 Kenyan Shillings worth of Community Currency for a total of approximately 200,000 KSH in circulation in Kenya. Each CC voucher is security printed in Germany with denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50. This is the same in Bangladesh, (Bangla-Pesa), Kawagware (Gatina-Pesa), Kangemi (Kangemi-Pesa), Kibera (Lindi-Pesa), Kwa Ng'ombe (Ng'ombeni-Pesa)
  11. What is the difference between counterfeiting and complementary barter based currencies?
    The 2011 case of the U.S vs. Bernard Von Nothaus points out, private barter currencies are perfectly legal, whereas coinage that is created and distributed in resemblance and similitude of Central Bank issued currencies may be deemed as counterfeit currencies. Community Currency does not seek to imitate National Currency, such as Kenyan Shillings, or any other currency in any way and is clearly labeled as a voucher.
    • On August 23rd 2013 Bangla-Pesa was deemed by the Director of Public Prosecution in Kenya to not have broken any laws. Read his report here.
  12. Does Bangla-Pesa relate to the Mombasa Republican Council or any secessionist or terrorist organization?.
    No. There is no affiliation whatsoever. We hope Bangladesh remains a strong part of Mombasa County and Kenya and continues to become a thriving community.
  13. Do Community Currencies work in other countries?
    While the Community Currencies used by Grassroots Economics is unique, there are hundreds of similar systems in dozens of countries around the world, often called Complementary Currencies, Barter or Reciprocal Exchanges. Read a paper by the City of London on the topic. Note that Grassroots Economics recently helped two communities in South Africa to implement similar programs.
  14. Are there other examples of communities using the Bangla-Pesa Community Currency system?
    We are working with several communities in Africa that are just starting to adopt the model. As of 2015 there are five CCs in Kenya and 2 in South Africa using the Bangla-Pesa Community Currency Model.
  15. How does one prevent counterfeit of Community Currency?
    Each voucher is printed by Kenya's top security printer, Punchlines Ltd. In order to deter people from copying Community Currency vouchers they have included several security features such as, Ultra Violet Ink, specialty paper, micro-lettering and serial numbering and a metallic stamp.
  16. What is the connection between Community Currency like Bangla-Pesa and the National currency (Kenyan Shillings) and how do they merge?
    Members can accept payment for their goods or services in Community Currencies which they can then use for goods or services at other members businesses, hence facilitating multilateral barter trade or reciprocal exchanges. This allows a water seller to sell water to a customer with Community Currencies that might not have afforded his services. The water seller can then use the Community Currencies to purchase food at a local restaurant utilizing excess local capacity for trade. All members continue to use and accept Kenyan shillings and increase their ability to save or invest in their families or business.All members are allocated a fixed amount of Community Currencies at no cost. Community Currencies are not purchased like M-Pesa or the Brixton Pound.
  17. What is going to happen to the National Currency?
    For each transaction we recommend the Community Currency only be used for 50% or less of the profit of the good or service sold. The purpose of the Community Currency is to top-up missing National Currency, so that trade in the area can increase. There will be times when there is plenty of National Currency in the community for trade and other times when the Community Currency is needed more. It is important to note that stabilizing local trade should only increase the overall stability of the national economy and increase Kenyan Shilling trade and savings. Our goal is a local credit reserve where at least 10% of local consumption is locally produced and trade facilitated by Community Currency. The National Currency is still needed for 90% of local trades as well as all imports and exporting in an area.
  18. The local government has failed us many times, what can this program do for us?
    This program is not run by the local government, but rather it allows local businesses to take an active role where the local government hasn't been able to help. The intention of the program is that it is owned by the local business community after a 1 year introductory period.
  19. How do i get backers or guarantors?
    Your backers or guarantors should be other businesses that purchase goods or services from you, and that you in return buy from. An ideal backer would be one of your customers who is also a supplier. Ultimately your backers should represent the core group in which you will be trading Community Currency.
  20. Where will the money be used? at which businesses?
    The Community Currency will be used at businesses of all registered members. A list of these members will be made available when you receive your Community Currency. Community Currency can also be used in your own business to give advances on salaries for employees.
  21. How will it be regulated and controlled?
    The program is under the supervision of Grassroots Economics, the University of Cape Town and in coordination with the local local government. Community Currency (which are vouchers equal in value to National Currency), will be issued per registered member of the business network. Future issuance will be in coordination with the business network. All the issued Community Currency will be 100% backed by the goods and services of members who are members of a certified Community Based Organization.
  22. How much CC is allocated per member of the networks?
    The initial allotment of CC has been set to an average amount of money prospective members spend on food daily. As a lower estimate GE determined that each member could produce or sell at least 400 CC worth of goods and services daily and spend those CC on food at a minimum. In addition, as each member joins the network he must be guaranteed for 100 CC by four other members. Since the CC is akin to a loan without monetary collateral it is important that not too much is issued, (but rather that it circulates rapidly.) This initial amount is highly dependent on the spending habits of the community.
  23. How will it help my business grow?
    It will allow customers to buy your goods or services even when they don't have enough National Currency. This will increase your sales and customers and help stabilize the local market.
  24. How are we going to get this Community Currency?
    Each registered member will receive Community Currency. Of which a portion of Community Currency will be kept for community service programs. This is your contribution to help the community. There will be a public launch event during which allotment of Community Currency will being for registered members.
  25. If my supplier is not going to accept Community Currency, wouldn't that have negative effect on my business?
    Note that members are required not to collect a balance of more than the amount of Community Currency that was allotted. Even if your suppliers do not accept the Community Currency, you can still spend it yourself as you would National Currency for other goods and services from other members of the business network. In this case you will only accept as much Community Currency as you know you can spend locally.
  26. What if this Community Currency ends up putting our businesses in jeopardy?
    As long as the business only accepts up to a balance of 400 Community Currency (they amount they were initially allocated) they should be in no fear of jeopardy. Should a business accept more Community Currency than they are able to use in the Business Network, their backers are responsible for educating that member and helping them use the CC. Ultimately it is up to the Community Currency user to understand the risks and make appropriate business decisions.
  27. If the Community Currency collapses what will happen to the Community Currency already in circulation?
    Since the Community Currency is backed by the goods and services of members it can only collapse if a majority of members of the Business Network decide that the Community Currency should not be used in the area, In that case each member should return as much Community Currency as they were allotted to the Network's committee. If the member has an excess of Community Currency beyond what they were allotted, it is up to other members, who have less Community Currency than they were allotted, to exchange those Community Currency for goods and services.

Below are More FAQs and Arguments from: http://www.complementarycurrency.org/helpdesk/arguments.html

What are the general arguments against
local currency systems,
and how do we respond to them?

Contents:

1.      Parallel currency systems cause a reduction in economic efficiency

2.      Parallel currency systems cause inflation

3.      Parallel currency systems encourage tax evasion

4.      Parallel currency systems abuse the Social Security System

5.      Parallel currency systems are unable to finance investments

6.      Parallel currencies are easily counterfeited

7.      Parallel Currency Systems Lead to an Informalization of the Economy

8.      Bad parallel currency drives out good conventional currency

9.      Local Currencies Cause Confusion Regarding the Basic Functions of Money

 

1.  Parallel currency systems cause a reduction in economic efficiency

Argument:

Since the circulation of a community currency is restricted to a relatively small area, it can be argued that little competition exists between producers of the same goods and services.  Moreover, since producers depend on a much smaller market, they will not be able to achieve the same scale advantages as larger producers.  This may give rise to higher prices for consumers due to the lack of competition-driven efficiency.

Response:

However, rather than replacing the national currency with the parallel currency, consumers generally trade using a portion of the parallel currency in combination with the national currency, therefore producers taking part in the parallel currency systems are not insulated from outside competition.  Because usually only a portion of the purchase is made using the parallel currency, producers are not dependent upon the alternative currency system for their income; it is often only the excess capacity that is sold through this system. By making use of this idle capacity, producers actually see their unit price decrease, thus increasing their efficiency.

Even if a parallel currency system grows in economic importance and consumers and producers become dependent on the system for a large proportion of their needs and income, one can enter the discussion of trade-off between economic efficiency and economic stability: at which point economic efficiency (through specialization) starts to endanger economic dependence.  Adversaries of these systems emphasize the economic efficiency effect of specialization and consider them to be a disguised form of protection, whereas on the other hand proponents of alternative currency systems emphasize the reduced economic dependence and higher self-reliance as result of participating, and see economic dependency as a potential source of not only economical instability, but also political and social unrest.

One of the fundamental principles of neo-classical economics is division of labour through specialization.  Persons, communities, regions and even countries have become increasingly specialized and therefore dependent on external trade.  In a dynamic world market, a comparative advantage today is not a guarantee for the same advantage tomorrow.  Although it is undeniable that globalization has lead to more products available at lower prices, it has also lead to increased inequality of wealth distribution, more income instability and enormous transitions costs for communities that have lost their competitive advantage.  These transition costs include not only a loss of income and employment, but also social costs such as rising crime rates, drug abuse, prostitution etc.  The main form of specialization in developing countries is in agricultural exports.  Local economies are left to the mercy of international markets that are completely out of their control.

A certain degree of specialization is beneficial and community currency systems certainly do not pretend to bring communities back to interdependence with other communities: products which demand a high degree of specialization and in which scale advantages play an important role, are simply not traded within the parallel system.  New computers, cars, and other highly specialized products consist of so many specialized elements, that they cannot possibly be developed at the level of a community unless all the various factors of production are in place at a cost which is competitive with other sources.

Parallel currencies are not intended as an alternative to the national currency.  However as a result of specialization, communities have lost a great deal of their skills diversity, making them more vulnerable to outside shocks.  If skills in such essential areas as agriculture, housing and clothing are lost because many people specialize in tasks that are only of value in the world market, the community degrades from an economically productive unity into a subsidized collection of individual households that have no viability on their own.  A new balance has to be found between the dependence on outside markets and self-reliance at community level.  It is easy to loose a skill; it is much more difficult to acquire one.  Parallel systems can help to employ and retain skills within the community, thus contributing to their very right of existence.

2. Parallel currency systems cause inflation

Argument:

This concern is closely related to the question of whether the new currency system is parallel or alternative to the national currency and the conventional economy.  Do local currencies create new trade or are they rather a substitute for trade formerly handled in the national currency?

If there is a large trade substitution effect, this could mean that prices will rise due to an expansion in the money supply.  This is especially true if the parallel currency is issued as Fiat, in which the money supply is expanded greater than if the parallel currency was issued as partially backed by conventional money or as a mutual credit system.  Fiat parallel currency systems can cause inflation if there is too much money in circulation and if this money can not be removed in time.  However, only in the case of the Salta Bonds in Argentina has the issue of inflation being caused by a fiat parallel currency been raised.  It appears to not be an issue with Hours systems at this stage, however this is one of the reasons behind arguments for what are called "demurrage", "negative-interest" or "depreciating" currencies which terminate after a period of time.

Response:

Trade creation is seen as a way to possibly reduce the effects of expansion in the money supply by providing an expanded range of locally produced goods and services with which to pull excess money out of the local economy.

Another option is to show the methods you have for controlling the money supply, how currency is issued into the economy and how it is removed from the economy.

3.  Parallel currency systems encourage tax evasion

Argument:

In most countries, no taxes are payable on purchases of goods or services unless the income is earned in connection with a business, or amounts to a certain income threshold.  Thus many of the transactions that take place are non-taxable.  If the money comes through a business, it must be recorded as income for the businesses own purposes, as well as for taxation purposes.

Response:

Since the turnover and profits of local businesses may be expected to rise after joining a parallel currency system, an increase of tax revenues may even be expected. Moreover, if transactions are registered (as is common in most mutual credit systems), tax evasion of local currency income is practically impossible, even though the system itself may not divulge this information to a government's Revenue Department.  In this case the parallel currency system actually works in favour of the tax collector because an active economy generates tax revenue.

4.  Parallel currency systems abuse the Social Security System

Argument:

Some issues have raised on the issue of receiving Social Security benefits like welfare and unemployment insurance while earning an income in a parallel currency.  Given that the social security system was never designed for the modern reality of marginal, occasional and temporary employment opportunities, there have been instances of individuals losing their Social Security benefits because of their participation in a parallel currency system.  More and more governments understand that benefit legislation is difficult to apply against individuals who are trying to lift themselves out of welfare dependence by participating in such systems.  Recent efforts in Australia and England are showing signs that federal governments are willing to do whatever is necessary to help people get off of welfare and into work, including allowing people to exempt their local curency income from their Social Security benefits.

Response:

However, governments may experience a drop in tax revenues if sales of certain enterprises fall because people prefer to buy services and products from individual members (who are tax-exempted) using the local currency.  More research would be necessary to examine the importance of this substitution effect and to which degree this tax loss is compensated by overall higher sales elsewhere and decreased expenses on welfare.

In developing countries, the tax evasion argument (and even less the benefit evasion problem) is hardly valid since in many cases such systems do not exist, the incomes earned in the informal sector (one of the main target groups for parallel currency system) are so minimal that it is improbable that they would be taxable.  Thus the issue varies from country to country.

Instead of regarding parallel currency systems as a tax evasion problem, many local and national governments now acknowledge the useful role that such systems can play in reducing the costs of Social Security system, providing income opportunities for people at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum, and increasing individual well-being and the meeting of needs.  In  Australia, income in local currency is not applied against Social Security benefits; in England, the government has employed civil servants to install systems; in New Zealand people who register as unemployed and looking for work are encouraged to join a system; in the USA income from  Time Dollars are exempted from tax.

In developing countries, where formal social security systems are underdeveloped or even non-existent, government support for parallel currency systems is even more desired.  One possible argument for governments giving preferential treatment to parallel currency systems is that such systems are a financial instrument that reduces the need for government expenditures on income transfers or subsidies, thus liberating public funds for other, truly productive investments such as education and infrastructure.

In short, arguments against parallel currency systems as a way of avoiding taxes are difficult to defend, especially in "developing" countries, and in "developed" countries where governments are going in new directions.  Levying taxes on enterprises that use scarce resources (energy, natural resources, space, environment, waste storage and/or transformation, etc.) are a new direction in which some governments are heading, such as Germany.  This would make labour cheaper and environmentally destructive products more expensive.  Discussions on the introduction of this so-called 'eco-tax' in the European Union are in the final stages.

5.  Parallel currency systems are unable to finance investments

Argument:

At an early stage in the development of modern parallel currency systems, some argued that the zero-interest policy makes it unattractive for the participants to save money, which deprived participants the savings they need to finance investments. 

Response:

At first, parallel currency systems argued that they do not pretend to substitute the conventional currency systems, and that they may even enhance the individuals ability to save money for investment purposes. As explained in earlier, the main function of money is to facilitate transactions, not to accumulate wealth. One of the strong characteristics of parallel currency systems is that accumulation of money is discouraged, thus preventing any interference with the function of money as an exchange medium.

Recent developments are shattering this myth.  The microcredit concept, in which funds may be contributed from outside, or pooled between the participants and lent in turn have won significant mention for their effects in Bangladesh and India.  As will be presented later, joining a parallel currency system to this concept can be very beneficial.

6.  Parallel currencies are easily counterfeited

Argument:

It can be argued that local currencies are easy to falsify, because the high-tech anti-counterfeiting measures taken in the case of national currencies are too expensive for local currencies.

Response:

While this may be true, no exchange medium, whether local or national, is completely safe from counterfeiting.  From the golden coins of previous ages that were shaved or reduced, to fake credit cards: the fact that money is something that can be counterfeited is and will always be an issue of concern.  Nevertheless, the number of cases  of counterfeiting of local currencies is very small (although not nonexistent) for several reasons.

The counterfeiting of local currencies is not very interesting for criminals looking for an easy profit while keeping a low profile. As the circle of people that accepts the local currency is limited, and because it is usually spent in combination with the national currency, the would-be thief would need some money of his own if he wanted to spend the money.  The chance of being caught is considerably higher than in the case of national currency.  Moreover, people within the system are not likely to undermine the system, since they benefit from it.  Finally, it is rare that people spend large amounts of money in a short while within the system.  People who spend large amounts into the system without having earned them first are easily detected.

Several simple and low-tech measures can be take to reduce the risk of counterfeiting:

1.  periodic recall (timed expiration and/or depreciation and new design of the paper money;

2.  use of special colours and/or types of paper, difficult to find or specially made for the purpose;

3.  use of off-set rather than photocopying techniques for reproduction;

4.  serial numbering the notes;

5.  stamping and signing the notes;

6.  making an impression on the note (such as the system's logo) using a special stamp or plier.

Other, more high-tech measures can be used, but they require the financial means available for this purpose and on the technical possibilities locally available.  The investment made in anti-counterfeiting equipment has to be seen not only in the light of reducing the risk of counterfeiting, but also as a confidence building measure, which is especially important during the early stages of the introduction of the currency.  Some community currencies have surpassed some national currencies in their anti-counterfeiting protection.  As Paul Glover, founder of the Ithaca Hours says, "multi-colored HOURS, some printed on locally-made watermarked cattail (marsh reed) paper, or handmade hemp paper, some with non-photocopiable thermal ink, all with serial numbers, are harder to counterfeit than dollars."

Mutual credit systems don't have these problems--they can't be lost, stolen or forged.  Any misuse of the system will appear in the records.

7.  Parallel Currency Systems Lead to an Informalization of the Economy

Argument:

This argument also touches the tax-evasion problem dealt with previously.  If a substitution takes place from activities formerly done by formal enterprises (who pay taxes) to individuals (who do not pay taxes), one can speak of a Informalization of the economy.  This would probably mean that one (taxable) full time job would be lost and replaced by many (untaxed) part-time jobs.  Enterprises can regard this as unfair competition because the individual part-time producers do not carry business overheads such as insurance and rents, nor do they comply with requirements for health, safety and fire regulations, food hygiene laws, public liability insurance etc.

Response:

On the other hand, it is questionable that this Informalization effect exceeds the new employment and income created as a result of better utilization of the excess production capacity of formal enterprises: while some enterprises might have to cut certain jobs, many enterprises will be able to employ more people as a result of increased sales. The overall effect on employment (and thus income tax revenues) might be positive and the job-loss could be considered a readjustment of the local economy.

Secondly, the term Informalization only means that the income is not considered taxable and that it does not figure in the GDP of the country.  It says nothing about the value of that income for the socio-economic well-being of the community.  Paying taxes or contributing to the GDP are no objectives in themselves.  Taxes are paid in order to correct a skewed income distribution and to pay for goods and services that are not produced by the private sector.  If a parallel currency system can redistribute one full time job over many part-time, it contributes to a better income distribution just as taxes do, but in a natural way.  Jobs are not lost; they are redistributed, which reduces the need for corrective socio-economic measures by government, such as welfare.

8.  Bad parallel currency drives out good conventional currency

Argument:

Sir Thomas Gresham, financial agent for Queen Elizabeth I was not the first to recognize the effects of weak currencies driving stronger currencies for circulation, but his elucidation of the principle that "bad money drives out good" became known as Gresham's Law.

When depreciated "bad" money circulates concurrently with "good" money of high value, the good money is hoarded and "driven out" of the market.  This was first noticed when silver and gold were used in coinage--silver was used instead of gold because of its weaker and more unstable value.  Speculators would make purchases of gold using silver, and on the mint market (the rate paid by the mint) silver often fetched a lower price than on the currency market, meaning a profit for the speculator.  "Bimetallism", as it is known, was the method of using Gresham's Law in speculation. 

Although economists rarely make such claims about parallel currencies, it could be argued that parallel currencies, especially fiat currencies circulate in preference to the national currency because they are weaker, driving the national currency from circulation and resulting in monetary problems if the use of the weaker currency becomes widespread.

Response:

Proponents of parallel currencies argue that their currency frees scarce national currency for trade creation through partial substitution of the parallel currency for transactions that formerly took place in the national currency.  By tying the two together in a parallel, rather than alternative system, they argue, Gresham's Law is not entirely applicable.  Instead, it may be better to say that the parallel currency pushes the national currency around with increasing benefit to the economy as a whole.

9.  Local Currencies Cause Confusion Regarding the Basic Functions of Money

Argument:

National currency fulfills three main functions: as a circulating medium of exchange, a divisible and measurable unit of account, and a store of value. Introducing a local currency confuses this by trying to separate the functions of medium of exchange and store of value. 

Response:

National currencies fulfill other functions as well, such as:

A Standard of Deferred Payment:  Because money can be stored, it is convenient for credit operations, the building of capital, and for investment purposes.

A tool for speculative profit: today more than 95% of all currency transactions are motivated by speculation; less than 5% are for trades of goods and services.

A Tool of Empire:  Money is used by powerful countries to undermine the currency of weaker countries to force dependence upon the stronger currency.  The Russian Ruble during the communist era, and the US dollar are examples of this.

Local Currencies seek to separate the function of means of exchange and store of value functions.  To separate the contradictory functions of money as a store of value on external markets and a medium of exchange at the community level.  These systems arise out of a critique of the dominant debt-based economy, and are designed in contrast to it.  The dominant economy is one in which money is owned by Banks, issued as debt to Governments, in scarce supply in order to maintain its value, and which can go anywhere.  As this currency can circulate inside and outside national borders, a contradiction arises:  the currency must be scarce to maintain its value on foreign markets, but there must be enough in the country to facilitate exchange.  In times of economic crisis, this contradiction can reach disastrous proportions.  Thus, community currencies can fill an important role, holding the domestic economy together while the national currency is being battered on international money markets.