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Social currency expands at the hands of self-management

Five years after the first catalan free-coin seminar (From the point of view of the Catalan Integral Cooperative)


In 2009, between 27th and 29th December in Alt Montseny, the first free-coin1 seminar took place. It was a meeting that signified the start of social currency coordination across Catalonia.  The seminar established the principles for further expansion of social currency networks in Catalonia and other territories.

Prior to this,  since January 2009, the Montseny eco-network2 was already active as was Tarragona3, an eco-network which became operative in July 2009. During this time, several self management experiences have taken off, as have initiatives that promote the use of social currency via eco-networks coordinating  in a decentralized fashion across the territory.
This chronological account aims to be a generic and financial evaluation of an emerging economy based on barter, cooperation and communal exchanges, which is moving forward slowly but steadily. 

The Eco 4 and Eco-networks 5

The Eco was the name given to coins, or monetary units. It was a means to facilitate decentralized and multi-reciprocal exchanges,  based on communal agreements on its properties and functions as a mixed monetary system.
  • Mutual Credit. Implementing interest-free currency, operating under negative balances and mantaining  cero global network balance.
  • Currency Exchange. To allow exchange between  fiat currency (euros) and social currency, both via exchange bureaus and at CIC Fairs, on an initial 1 to 1 basis in order to facilitate exchange.
  • Online System. To manage balances and other transactions, allowing connectivity and inter-operability between various networks as well as being compatible with the option of developing printed currency.
  • CIC-Organised fairs as periodical local spaces in which to meet and trade.
  • Purchasing centres. 6 As permanent exchange stores (Co-operative stores)
The Eco, with it’s many social currencies, the network in which products, services and knowledge are exchanged, and the promotion of self management and cooperation, are all parts of the environment or eco-system known as the Eco-Network(ecoxarxa).
The eco-network is formed by its soverign assembly, together with all the people and collective projects that form the network. It is through this interaction between people and projects, placing needs and abilities in common, that the Eco-Network manifests itself as a community supply network.


CES: 7 virtual community exchange system with social currency

The CES has prevailed as a management system or accounting of exchanges, which allows tracking transactions and monetary flows seamlessly.
This system was developed from South Africa, driven by Tim Jenkins and currently serves 728 exchange networks worldwide, a third of them in the Iberian Peninsula.
This software offers a high level of functionality as well as being fully compatible with the mixed system of social currency chosen.

Social coins in the CIC

The form taken by the Echo in the Catalan Integrated Cooperative was the ECOcoop, following the same general criteria of other ecoxarxes. It basically creates a decentralized manner by the participants themselves, when they perform exchanges while changing hands.
Later, it became necessary to create the ecobàsic, a separate record to facilitate the redistribution of resources within the CIC, with the primary objective of ensuring access to basic needs of the people involved with the common. This currency is backed with a budget in euro, which ensures the provision of goods to supply those committed to the common, is not cumulative and only serves to access basic needs.
El  ecobàsic fue realmente útil durante todo un período en el que el nivel  de aceptación de la moneda social era limitado, cuando la ecoCoop  no podía garantizar una redistribución adecuada y el abastecimiento en  moneda social. En todo caso, en el futuro se deberá valorar su utilidad  como herramienta de redistribución de recursos comunitaria y equitativa
The ecobàsic was really useful for a whole period in which the level of acceptance of social currency was limited when ECOcoop could not guarantee an adequate supply of redistribution and social currency. In any case, in the future should assess its usefulness as a tool for redistributing resources and equitable community.8



Assessment of difficulties, obstacles and gaps

Experience comes from learning, which is why you need to do a compilation of relevant issues to help evaluate this experience and move on: 9
Creation, issue and redistribution of money without real backing for goods and services, such as reciprocity (in the form of basic allowance) for the dedication provided to common.
Was a major departure from social currency to other ecoxarxes with compromised productive projects, which were those that could have real capacity to supply.
Some producers initially pushed for the social currency when there was not yet a sufficiently strong network from which supplies and meet their other needs. This made positive balances accumulate social currency, unable to give out.
Some central purchasing more socially accepted currency of the producers really accepted without it were supported in tangible goods and services or a budget euros. It generated a greater output euros and an accounting imbalance.
Accounting and resource management inexperience. There were difficulties in economic and financial balances: spreadsheets by hand, inexperience, etc.
All this triggered a blockage in the use of social currency, both for lack of confidence, as by material failure to give out, generating accepting only small percentages.

Agreements to promote and extend trust

During the year 2013 has been significant progress through the development of the first annual budget, a collaborative planning process through which collectively established common priorities for the year.
Subsequently, in February 2014, was an important confidence to extend social currency step, when the permanent assembly of the CIC voted to accept any payment for common services 100% on currency social.10
There are three aspects to be taken into account:
The experience of 2013 helped to consolidate self-management tools to facilitate autoocupación11 a growing number of autonomous economic projects, which were integrated into the network of the Cooperative.
As a result, we were able to establish a stable funding euros through contributions from autonomous projects that allowed nurture the common budget. Thus, it was possible to support social currency on a budget with euros and thus, too, with goods and services.12
With the decision to accept 100% of social currency, the independent production sector started receiving this dose of trust, expand the richness of the network and the possibilities of stable supply of social currency. This facilitates return, and stable flow of social currency previously displaced to other networks.
We can conclude that the commitment to take from the common and the risk in promoting social currency gradually build confidence and self permeate the fabric of the network. It is an experience that is also being carried out from some ecoxarxes and local self cores.


Delivery of social currency

The application, since early 2013, the principle of reciprocidad13 as a compromise with producers ensured that could access products supply in proportion to the social currency that had accepted.
The extent of confidence in the social currency and the progressive incorporation of an increasingly diverse productive fabric, has allowed more people, households and collective projects stocked daily with an important part of social currency through the cupboards (rebostos ) 14 areas, which are less dependent on supplies in euros and, therefore, the dominant structures that foster economic competition: the market, wage labor and the state.
Thus, the possibilities of supply and meet needs such as food, hygiene, health, miscellaneous services and equipment are enlarged. Self-managed network that promotes CIC supply integrated in the Central Supply Catalana (CAC) and pantries, along with coordination and mutual aid allowed to grow in a decentralized manner. Currently, it supplies 25 pantries, 6 consumer groups, 14 commissions CIC.
There are 15 producers who also supplied directly through the CAC, a total of 62 154 products supplying the current list.
There are still difficulties in reaching high percentages of acceptance of social currency by producers (mainly raw materials) and that is why most committed producers and suppliers with social currency key priority. Similarly, it is strengthening the relationship with existing producers, expanding the search for producers of non-perishable staples, 15  to accept at least 50% of social currency.
With this growing potential, we must continue promoting and strengthening the commitment to social exchange and currency of all people, projects and self-managed networks. We must take steps forward and build on the principle of reciprocity and acceptance of 100% in social currency in goods and services to meet our needs and reduce dependence on money and capitalist economy.


Econets and coordination meetings without borders

The extent of CAC has facilitated the creation and consolidation of the network of pantries and supply planning through collective orders and decentralized logistics routes that allow you to connect and coordinate stably dispersed communications between bioregions in the territory.
Similarly, it is important to make visible the experience developed by various ecoxarxes in Catalonia, such as ecoxarxes of Anoia,16 Bages,17 Tarragona,18 Ebre19, Garrotxa,20 Girona,21 Empordà22 i many others that are activas.23
The regular meetings of ecoxarxes are a coordination that allows exchanging experiences and nurture learning and sharing good practices and obstacles overcome. They are a reality, too, bioregional meetings ecoxarxes (among which are geographically close), allowing a level of coordination and making progressive network.
We must likewise mention other initiatives such as the Red comprehensive borderless cooperatives, 24 who also actively promotes the development of social currencies and bioregional ecoxarxes in the respective territories.
At European level, there is a state meeting of community currencies, which this year was held in Valencia its third edición25 and similar initiatives in France or Portugal. Moreover, recently held two international meetings in Lyon and the Hague, and has already planned a third in 2015 in Brazil.


New tools: IntegralCes 26


Summarizes the main characteristics of Integralces:

  •      It is free software, ie, its development is open and col·laboratiu.27
  •      Self-management server is in Catalonia, allowing a significant degree of proximity and agility to resolve maintenance issues.
  •      It is more intuitive and easy to use.
 In recent months are already a few of ecoxarxes that have moved to the Integralces plus Integral Catalan Cooperative, which migrated on December 19, 2014; 28 the rest of ecoxarxes and related networks, is planned to migrate during the 2015 (including also creating new networks who have not used the old CES).
The Integralces does support transactions with the CES and in the future be able to connect with other systems, like other managers of social currency, the manager orders the CAC 29 Coopfunding,30 cooperative market, mobile phones, etc.
 Other examples of initiatives that foster exchanges and social currencies
  • intercanvis.net:31 originally created for Grace Interchange Network (Xaingra), and Knowledge Sharing Network Grace (XIC-Gracia) around 2007. Shortly thereafter became the place to collect information from all networks for exchange of goods, services and knowledge.
  • Turuta: 32 social currency promoted by the ECOL3VNG association (local ecological economic ecosystem of Vilanova and Geltrú).
  • Cic-Intercanvis: 33 mailing list to primarily share demands and also make offerings, prioritizing them social currency, the direct exchange or gift.
  • Mercat Ecosol 34 social currency promoted by the Solidarity Economy Network (XES).
  • Bancs of temps: 35 in recent years have created dozens of time banks generally promoted or supported by state institutions and municipalities.
  • Institute of Social Currency: 36 study group of several groups and economists who study it closely and actively participate in the dissemination and extension.

 Transition towards a society for the common good

It is important to periodically review the decisions and experiences that accompany us on this path of transition as well as collecting and assessing the criticisms and objections to strengthen self-management processes under construction (and specifically regarding social currency).
That is why we gather here several references to criticisms made by colleagues from other groups, which must be shown, although they are partial and insufficient:
  •      Self-management of misery and wretchedness of autogestió 37 and subsequent dialogue with Repoblament Rural.38
  •      Social coin, a transformative tool? 39
Social currencies should be a transition vehicle in the reconstruction of our economies, with a local and bioregional roots. But the economy is not the exchange and the market, the social currency is only part of this economic transition. The coin exist as useful to the objectives of the self-organized communities and meets your needs.
It is therefore necessary to advance the comprehensive revolution 40 to the comprehensive self-management peer through local assemblies tangled who sovereignly should ensure their own needs and those of the people who are part of the community. It is in the vicinity of the assemblies which will become apparent needs, abilities, knowledge and material resources with which account, so you can decide, organize and carry out the necessary actions to meet them.
Thus, the path opens to break the hegemony of the market and exchange of goods in the daily supply. This is one of the lines of work to be done face to 2015 by the CIC as a strategy for community planning or econòmica41 democracy
Health and entanglement!
Coordinació Comissió of the Catalan Integrated Cooperative


Documento adjunto:



 4. In the Montseny called it ‘ecoSeny’, ‘eco’ in the case of network Eco Tarragona, ‘ECOcoop’ in the Catalan Integrated Cooperative and other specific names according to each Ecored.
 6. Actualmente, the rebostos called (cabinets).
 7. Comunnity Exchange System (CES) is a virtual system, what is needed is a computer with internet connection so that it can use: http://www.ces.org.za.
 8. Una related aportació is multidimensional crisis and inclusive democracy, Takis Fotopoulos. Chapter 14: “confederal resourcing”: https://cooperativa.ecoxarxes.cat/file/view/113658/crisis-multidimensional-y-democracia-inclusiva-llibre-en-pdf
 9. Aquí we refer specifically to the trajectory of the CIC, mainly between 2010 i 2012.
 10. Nota February 2014: “We started from the CIC support a process of social currencies ECOcoop and ecobàsic, accepting any payment of common services to 100% in social currency. A support will be based on the quantity of products, services and resources, respecting the criterion of reciprocity and shared forms of assessment. Thus, the currency in circulation represent the existing real value in our economic system and collective confidence in a system multirecíproco exchange. “
 12. This process began in 2012 with the adoption of the new system of basic allowances cooperatives, supported by the common budget, replacing the previous ‘basic income’.
 13. The XarxaEco of Tarragona began to apply the principle of reciprocity to producers earlier.
 14. Rebostos (cabinets) are cooperative spaces sourcing and local exchange.
 15. Specially commodity.
 37. Published on nº 3 of the journal Terra cremated (late 2012): http://terracremada.pimienta.org/autogesti%C3%B3.html
 39. Published by the grup for the defense of the territory of Alt Palancia (Castellón) in no. 3 anti-development Argelaga i libertarian magazine (April 2014): https://argelaga.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/la-moneda-social-una-herramienta-transformadora/
 40. https: //integrarevolucio.net/ca/revolucio-integral/que-entenem-per-revoiucio-integral
 41. Proposal presented in their 49s Days in assemblies of the CIC: http://cooperativa.cat/proposta-de-transicio-cap-a-una-societat-del-be-comu
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