Joy Carey explains Bristol’s progressive food culture

Originally posted on Bristol Food Connections Blog

Sustainable food system planning consultant and author of ‘Who Feeds Bristol? Towards a resilient food plan’, Joy Carey gives us some background on Bristol’s progressive food culture and the Bristol Good Food Plan. Did you know that Bristol is the first UK city to have its own Food Policy Council? Read more about it here.

Joy Venue food feature pic 3Please introduce yourself
My name is Joy Carey. I’ve lived in Bristol since 1996. I work as an independent consultant in sustainable food system planning. That’s about finding practical solutions to making food – that is good for people, places and the planet – available to all of us. It’s also about working out who should do what and how.

Can you give us a bit of background around the Who Feeds Bristol Report and the consequent establishing of Bristol’s Food Policy Council?
The full title of the report is ‘Who Feeds Bristol? Towards a resilient food plan’. In 2009 I submitted a proposal to the Green Capital partnership for the research and in 2010 NHS Bristol commissioned me to do the work. It took 11 months to complete and over 200 people contributed information. It looked at how 1.5 million meals arrive on our Bristol plates each day. The aim was to understand how the food system operates and how different elements are interconnected. We need to understand how to build on existing strengths and reduce vulnerabilities in order to build a food culture for the city that has the health of people and planet at its heart and is as resilient as possible to any future shocks and challenges. The report identified eight different areas of work that Bristol needs to address and recommended a ‘food system planning process’. That means it’s not just a matter of writing a report and job done. The research was only the first step. We needed to bring a group of people together, with representatives from the different parts of the food system, to put food on Bristol’s governance agenda, and to help lead an ongoing process of involving Bristol’s citizens in each of those eight areas of work. This is the Bristol Food Policy Council. No single organisation can reshape the food system. It involves all of us, each contributing where we can.

What do you think makes Bristol special when it comes to its food culture and community?
Bristol has a rich culture of ‘Do It Yourself’ and is full of inspiring people who are just getting on with their good food ideas and making them happen. I think what’s special is the diversity of activity and the number of young adults who are getting involved, including a new but emerging interest in commercial urban agriculture enterprises. In addition to the ‘very happening’ allotment scene there are over 40 community gardens and orchards. Many of these organise public events. In the last few years I’ve seen increasing numbers of invitations to community apple wassails in winter and apple days in the autumn. There are lots of opportunities to get involved as volunteers, learn new food-growing skills and meet new people. We have an excellent choice of cafes and restaurants serving affordable meals cooked from scratch using fresh seasonal local or regional ingredients. Bristol has four active city farms that are open to the public. There are a growing number of community organised food co-ops and buying groups. We have over 40 independent butchers around the city, a good number of which buy meat from farmers in the local region. In the past few years, we’ve seen a huge increase in small-scale bakeries selling us a much wider choice of delicious freshly baked breads.  We have a number of different public food events in the city – food festivals and markets as well as other public events where food sellers are involved. If you want to buy an organic veg box, there are several options, or you can become a member of a community-supported farm. I could go on…. And of course there’s room for so much more. We could do a lot more to learn about our city’s different food cultures, recipes and culinary heritage from other parts of the world.

What key elements of Bristol’s food system still need to change?
The Who Feeds Bristol report identified eight areas for action. These are the framework for our Bristol Good Food Plan. The food plan is a mechanism for helping us to align and pool our collective efforts towards these clear eight goals so as to make some big and noticeable changes that should be visible in the next few years.

The short answer to this question is that we need to:

  • Maximise and make more visible Bristol’s supply of staple foods (meat, dairy, fruit & veg, cereals) produced in the surrounding region
  • Ensure that everyone has access to affordable fresh, seasonal, ‘cook from scratch’ ingredients with which to prepare a healthy meal
  • Safeguard the diversity of food markets and food retail outlets
  • Ensure ‘closed loop’ systems – that means to redistribute food that is fit to eat, but otherwise would go to landfill, and to recycle nutrient and energy resources by composting food waste
  • Increase the opportunities for all of us to get involved in food activities, – like food growing, or reducing our food waste, or learning to cook, or even setting up a food business – in a fun engaging way

How do you think Bristol Food Connections will contribute to this change?
Bristol Food Connections is a fantastic opportunity for all of us to learn about and get involved in food activities in a fun and uplifting way. It will help us find out about what’s already going on by showcasing lots of the city’s inspiring food activities. It will help us connect up better – so many people are doing so many amazing things but we don’t all know about each other. One of Bristol’s challenges is to find a way to work together on the eight areas set out in the Bristol Good Food Plan. I think the festival will be fun and inspiring and I hope it will encourage more people to get involved in food-related activities that they enjoy and care about. 

What small change can people at home make that would make a big difference?
We need to think about what we are eating and look beyond cheapness or convenience.  ‘As well as being tasty, healthy and affordable, the food we eat should be good for nature, good for workers, good for local businesses and good for animal welfare.’ (Bristol Good Food Charter)

Just a ten percent shift to buying regional, seasonal, fairly traded food is enough to make a massive difference. Here are some things that each of us could do:

  • Watch the Bristol Good Food animation here for inspiration! http://bristolfoodpolicycouncil.org/
  • Buy more of your food from local independent food enterprises and retailers
  • Open a Bristol Pound account and use the text to pay option on your mobile phone
  • Grow some of your own food at home or get an allotment
  • Volunteer at community garden, farm or orchard
  • Cook great meals from scratch using fresh, seasonal, local and organic produce
  • Order an organic vegetable box from a local supplier
  • Waste as little food as possible and compost or recycle any that you can’t use
  • Ask your school or workplace to only serve Good Food. You could ask if they have considered applying for the Food for Life catering mark award.
  • Ask your favourite eating out place about where they buy their ingredients

Local resilience and empowerment: Molly Scott-Cato on the Bristol Pound, economic change and why she became an economist

Interview by Francesca Wakefield

molly-scott-CatoAs the UK braces itself for yet another onslaught of gales and flooding, the Bristol Pound caught up with prominent local green economist Molly Scott-Cato for a chat. Barely a question in and Cato, who is also a Professor at the University of Roehampton and leads the Green Party’s list for this May’s European elections, has a very clear message: the floods are telling us a story, and we’d do well to listen.

It’s a story about local resilience, economic empowerment and why, when it comes to money, we’re actually all just like fish. If you want to know why, you’d better read on…

What do you think of the local currency movement in the UK?

As an environmentalist there’s an awful lot you can get involved in that’s about protesting or campaigning, but it’s quite unusual to have something you can actually do which goes right to the heart of your everyday life and which makes a huge difference. Using a local currency is an example of just that.

We’re like fish which swim in water, and that’s what the monetary system is: it’s just there, we don’t see it. How many times every day do we spend money and so reinforce the global economy? But having a local currency is doing the opposite: we’re challenging the global economy and reinforcing the local economy. It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to do that.

That’s so great to hear you say that. Just how important do you think local currencies are in supporting local economies and communities?

Local resilience is key; and as a message I’ve been talking about my whole career, the recent flooding has particular importance to me as it really reinforces this point. I think we’ve grown used to just expecting food to come from the supermarket and not asking questions beyond that. It’s something which has left us really vulnerable because actually our food often comes from the other side of the world and is dependent on really complex supply chains. Extreme weather events show us just how unreliable these systems are: basic things can go wrong and the system can fail. The global trade system is also very energy intensive, so even if it was reliable we can’t afford the ongoing carbon cost.

Here in the South West we have extremely fertile soil: meaning we could, and should, be providing for our own needs. The Bristol Pound as a local currency really brings all that together because if you have a local economy you need a currency to facilitate exchanges. If you have a local currency then you encourage people to buy from local shops, and then for those local shops to buy from local suppliers – instead of getting caught up in global supply chains.

What you’re talking about of course is the local ‘multiplier effect’…

Yes, the local multiplier is important in shaping how we shop. But what’s even more important is how the multiplier effect can encourage not just more local spending, but more primary production. There’s food growing in Bristol now and I think that’s what we need to be expanding – and a local currency can encourage that. Once supply chains become extended they become energy intensive and enable middle-men to extract value out of the supply chain. As a system this is wasteful, and it also creates inequality. That globalised system is my target really, and why I trained to become an economist so I could work towards finding better ways of doing things.

You’ve written a lot about the democratisation of money: to what extent do you think the success of schemes such as the Bristol Pound and campaigns like Positive Money indicate a public appetite for change?

It seems obvious to me that if you want to have a democratic society you need to have a money supply which is under democratic control. Continuing to have a system where an elite minority has a huge influence over economic policy is incompatible with that. But that’s a very threatening argument! – in a similar way to properly addressing challenges like climate change. As a result I’m afraid to say that debate just doesn’t really happen in our mainstream media.

However, I think the financial crisis really shook people up. If we go back to the analogy of the fish you see the possibility that your water has been all drained away – and suddenly you realise, there was water there and you didn’t understand how that worked. When I first started looking into all this some 10 or 15 years ago people didn’t want to talk about these issues, but since 2008 people are really thinking about it. They associate their welfare with money, and realise now that it’s not secure, so are really paying attention now – and that’s a huge opportunity.

What would you like to see change on a national level, and how can local schemes contribute to the debate?

The issue of the banks, and the security of their operations, has simply not been addressed because of the power of the bank lobby. So we’re still in just as insecure a position as we were. Plus, the cost of bailing out the banks has led us into this awful austerity politics: so we’re all paying a huge social price for that.

The whole question of money creation has still not really been raised, and it’s that part of the argument which now really needs have attention drawn to it. This is where schemes such as local currencies can really help to raise awareness of those wider issues – because people who use the Bristol Pound will start to ask those questions. Having a local currency is a great way of learning what your economic motivations and priorities are.

Are there any other monetary innovations either at home or abroad which have particularly inspired you?

Well, obviously the Chiemgauer is very impressive [one of the most successful local currencies in the world – click to read one of our previous blogs about it]. When we launched the Stroud Pound we copied the Chiemgauer because it’s just been so successful and influential. They’ve managed to effectively use the currency to build up and become a bank. They’re now able to lend to local businesses and are now a powerhouse in their local economy.

Local currency movements in South America are also very interesting. What you notice there is that people will always use the best available money: we have a so-called strong currency here, but in Argentina a local currency has a lot more relevance. Local development banks in South America are even using local currencies to multiply the amount of money people in need are getting from the government. Banco Palmas in Brazil is a good example of that.

To what extent do you think innovations such as Bitcoin have a role to play in a more democratic and socially useful monetary system?

Bitcoin is an interesting thing, but I don’t think it makes our money supply any more democratic: it’s not clear to me who runs it and where the value is extracted and that makes me nervous. The power systems with Bitcoin are invisible, and I’m also always asking questions about the extent to which the internet is democratic, and I don’t think it is. Some people have vastly more power over things which happen on the internet than others.

Bitcoin is also not local: it doesn’t build relationships. To me the social exchange is as important as the economic exchange and on this score Bitcoin is empty. Local currencies, on the other hand, will promote local exchange and relationships. And to me, that’s of crucial importance when redesigning our money supply.

Huge thanks for taking the time to talk to us Molly!

To read one of our previous blogs on Bitcoin click here. Read more of Molly Scott-Cato’s musings at her blog or you can find her on Twitter here.

Photo: Transition Bath

Can Complementary Currencies Level the Gender Gap in Slums?

Originally published by Morgan Richards on Bangla-Pesa blog.

Resilience and ingenuity are trademarks of impoverished communities here in Kenya. When we first introduced Bangla-Pesa it had a few ups and downs, but now it is being used in ways we had never imagined.

We recently completed a follow-up survey asking members of the business network who are using Bangla-Pesa about how they are spending it, how they are making sales with it, and how it is impacting their business. Bangla-Pesa user case study experiences, like Marciana, have also been documented to backup survey claims below.

What is the Bangla-Pesa doing?

Currently 123 surveyed businesses conduct on average 7% of their daily trades using Bangla-Pesa. Assuming these sales would not have occurred without the voucher, we can call this a 7% increase in local sales. And, given that members have actually experienced an overall increase in sales in Kenyan shillings compared to baseline data**, we believe these sales in Bangla-Pesa are “new” trades due to the program’s ability to utilize excess capacity.

Further, overall trade for businesses in the network has increased on average by an astonishing 83% compared to baseline data**. While we can’t claim 100% of this increase is due to the program, based on interviews, we believe much of it is due to greater liquidity and stability of the market created by the complementary currency, which is especially meaningful since this survey period covers one of the worst market seasons of the year.

With roughly 9,600 KSH ($111 USD) worth of Bangla-Pesa transacted daily, the increase growth in the local economy can surpass the cost of the program implementation in about 3 months!

This survey indicates that Bangla-Pesa not only increases overall trade in the community, but also specifically increases the trade in the national currency (Kenyan Shillings). This indicates that the program has measurable benefits for economic development and could subsides services otherwise provided by county governments. This shows that empowering communities to issue their own means of exchange is a simple and effective tool for reducing poverty and creating market stability by providing a way of trading which can be used even during harsh economic conditions and market stagnation. We will continue monitoring the effects of this program over time to see that these benefits hold true. With more than 2 billion people project to be living in slums by 2030 and over a billion people living in dire poverty now, this affects everyone on the planet.

Who’s Using Bangla-Pesa?

Bangladesh is a community of roughly 20,000 residents. The business network using Bangla-Pesa has a total of 141 small scale businesses as members. The “typical” network member is a 35 year-old mother who identifies herself as the main provider of 2-3 children. She has never gone to secondary school, and supports her family either by selling cooked food like flatbread, pastries, fried potatoes, or through a stand selling fruits and/or vegetables. She earns around 600ksh ($7 USD) a day. Despite long days minding her shop, she also spends 2-3 hours a day on household chores like cooking, cleaning, and childcare.

The market in Bangladesh is extremely volatile, with business reporting their average daily sales varying from 200ksh (~$2 USD) during bad periods to 1200ksh (~$14 USD) during good periods, as shown in the volatility graph.

This fluctuation tells us that businesses could meet a much higher demand for goods and services (as demonstrated during good times) than they are during bad or even average periods. However, because community members often lack a means of exchange (Kenyan shillings) through which to make purchases due to persistent poverty or market stagnation, individuals cannot actualize their demand for products, and so businesses are not able to reach their full potential. We refer to those goods or services which might have been sold, given a means of exchange, as a business’s excess capacity.

Bangla-Pesa provides this otherwise absent means of exchange, enabling businesses to both increase their sales and more effectively actualize their demand for goods and services within the network.

Right now, there are 26,200 BP/= (305 dollars) in circulation. Businesses report spending an average of 62 Bangla-Pesa (72 cents) every day, while they report receiving about 84 Bangla-Pesa (98 cents USD) daily from customers. They also report an average increase in daily sales of 240ksh ($2.8 USD). These amounts together (sales in Ksh and BP) represent and average increase in sales value of around 83%. This effect is especially strong for women who are both using Bangla-Pesa more, on average, and experiencing a greater average increase in Ksh sales.

Community members chiefly use Bangla-Pesa to meet their basic needs, with the greatest percentage of members identifying the following 5 goods as purchased most frequently: Raw food: 48.2%, Cooked food: 49.7%, Shop Items (sugar, flour, cooking oil, etc): 37.6% Water: 28.4% Charcoal (for cooking): 22%. From this, we believe Bangla-Pesa gives community members a means of exchange through which to better actualize their demand for basic needs goods.

What We Didn’t Expect (But Love) About How Bangla-Pesa is Being Used

Beyond stable exchange circles, members have spontaneously started using Bangla-Pesa in their traditional rotating credit groups, called Merry-Go-Rounds. These groups collect 10 Bangla-Pesa from each member every day and distribute it all to one of the members. This is helping the network to spread and rotate sums of Bangla-Pesa around members. Local churches have also begun accepting offerings in Bangla-Pesa which they then use to buy food and other goods and services for needy members.

What Happens Next?

We keep registering businesses! We know there are more than 200 small businesses in Bangladesh which are eligible for inclusion in the network. Given the benefits these initial findings attribute to the Bangla-Pesa, we would like to register all these businesses. Further, just over half of the businesses in the network report that there is not enough Bangla-Pesa in circulation. 200BP per business member is kept in a community fund for social services. The community will begin using these funds for health, sanitation, education, or other services, spending the vouchers into the community and providing more opportunities for businesses to trade, grow, and meet their families’ needs.

As positive findings and reports continue to flow out of Bangladesh, we hope to one day replicate this program in other vulnerable informal settlements in the area. We also hope that other communities are inspired to take up their own complementary currency programs in Kenya and beyond.

What this means for you:

  • NGOs and International Aid Organizations. Communities don’t need aid forever! Helping communities tap into their own abundance is cost effective and sustainable, without long term dependence on aid funding.
  • Local and National Governments. Empower your people! This is a cost effective tool to increase local economies and help subsidize the need for government funding.
  • Communities You can do this yourself! Don’t wait for outside resource when you can tap into your own.

*These findings will be published in more detail in the next few months. Contact us if you would like to be informed when the data is published.
**Baseline data collection started in November and continues for new members. Data were collected by three trained surveyors using Android phones and Open Data Kit. Report compilation and data analyses was done by Morgan Richards (M.A. Sociology) and Will Ruddick (M.S. Physics).

Bangla-Pesa (BP) Summary statistics
Date circulation was officially re-initiated: 10-Dec-2013
Businesses using BP: 131
Businesses surveyed: 123
% of daily sales in BP: 7%
BP as a percentage of daily sales: 16%
% increase in total sales (ksh + bp): 83%
Avg. BP sales per business per day: 84 BP (98 cents USD)
Avg. BP used per business per day: 62 BP (72 cents USD)
Total BP in circulation: 26,200 BP (~$305 USD)
Avg. daily trade in BP: 9,600 BP (~$111 USD)
Amount of monthly trade in BP: 289,000 BP (~$3,345 USD)
% of users report spending BP the most on: Raw food: 48.2%, Cooked food: 49.7%, Shop Items (sugar, flour, cooking oil, etc): 37.6% Water: 28.4% Charcoal (for cooking): 22% (note users could select multiple categories, hence categories do not add to 100%)

The Story of the Bristol Pound

By Chris Sunderland, Bristol Pound and Real Economy Director

What would it be like if we did a local currency at scale, across a whole city? What would it be like if we had an
electronic means of exchange as well as a paper currency?
These were the two questions which the Bristol Pound set
out to answer. The Transition movement was booming
across the world at that time and everyone was aware that serious changes had to be made, not only to our individual lifestyles, but also to the very structure of our economies. We had benefited here in the UK from some brave experiments. Totnes, Lewes, Brixton and Stroud had all launched a paper currency. They had proved that these systems could attract attention to local traders, but we wanted to explore the possibility of creating systemic change, truly benefiting the local economy by means of the local multiplier effect and for that there was a need to step up in scale.

Some people said we were brave, others, slightly mad. But the very small team grew from two, to three, four, six, then eight, as we put together careful and detailed plans for what we would do. Someone volunteered the idea that we could make payments by text, that the technology was all there and simple to execute and, to prove it, he built us a prototype. We burrowed into the detail and wrote a hundred pages of feasibility study. Our aim was to show people we could actually do this.

From the earliest phase we recognised that our crucial challenge was to attend to public confidence in the system. Some people were bound to say it was ‘funny money’, not quite real, and certainly not to be trusted. So, in response, we committed ourselves to backing every paper Bristol Pound with a pound sterling, which would be locked away in a trust account so that even if we went bankrupt, people’s money would be safe. Similarly, we built confidence through a partnership with Bristol Credit Union, who agreed to manage our electronic accounts. Bristol Credit Union are regulated by, what is now called, our Financial Conduct Authority and already managed accounts to a value of several millions pounds.

The second challenge regarding public confidence concerned significance. We were aware that the public would quickly judge a local currency as to whether or not it would ever be significant in the life of the city. If they thought it would just be a gimmick, they would not participate and just wait for it to melt away. So we went to the local authority and said, ‘We would like you to consider taking Bristol Pounds in payment for business rates’. At first they were hesitant. How could they realistically change all their accounting systems for this thing that was likely to fail? Pressing on with the detail, we found a way that the public could pay their business rates in Bristol Pounds without causing a headache for the council. And so the deal was done. And our potential businesses knew that, if they had Bristol Pounds and found them difficult to spend on with other member businesses then they could always pay their business rates. This proved particularly important in our trader recruitment.

So, we had some detailed plans that we were confident in, and our next task was to engage the city. Our paper currency needed designing, and we had some great designers working pro bono for us. So we created a template and put it out to the city to fill in the design. We received more than two hundred entries from professional designers, keen amateurs, and many school children. Then an independent panel, drawn from different communities of the city, chose the winners. The results have been very well received. (ref picture, the one pound, face side)

The design competition attracted attention from the media, and from another unexpected source, the Bank of England, who wanted to enquire about our ‘ambiitious’ scheme. As a result the team found ourselves in Threadneedle Street, visiting with people from the Bank of England, the Treasury, the Financial Services Authority and the Financial service compensation scheme all at the same time. The meeting was slightly nerve wracking, from our point of view, but actually very constructive, as we cleared off many of the legal questions at one meeting and left with a renewed confidence.

Several years had passed by now. We had begun our explorations in 2009. It was now January 2012 and we faced the big decision. Are we ready to launch? It was big, because we had almost no money. Aside from a large donation from a trust dedicated to developing our electronic software, we had almost nothing. We had just about enough to print the paper currency. By now we had a team of people, who were somehow able to give enormous amounts of time without hardly any pay, but we realised that to say we were going to launch was to give a commitment we could not draw back from. We went for September 19th 2012.

As we drew closer to the launch day, our office got noticeable quieter and more intense. A trial of the text payment system was under way. Exchange points were being developed across the city. The individuals and traders were signing up to the system. And it all had to be ready for the 19th.

The Corn Exchange lies in the heart of the historic part of Bristol. The short pillars known as the ‘nails’ in Corn Street are places of ancient exchange, where people swapped gold for goods, paying, as we say ‘on the nail’. On the 19th of September at 12 noon the Lord Mayor, stood by one of the nails in all his fine regalia, held up a Bristol pound and declared, ‘What will anyone give me in exchange for my Bristol pound.’ And a local trader stood forward bringing a loaf of bread and said ‘ I will give you this loaf for your Bristol Pound.’ Then the cameras whirred and we had a party.

The media frenzy that started that day has not really stopped. We had coverage, not only from our BBC, but from media providers from Europe and around the world. I know some people in Bristol who heard about the Bristol Pound from their friends in Australia! There has also been extraordinary interest from China.

Bristol Pounds went on sale at the launch. Serious numbers were taken as souvenirs, but, more importantly, many Bristol people took them for use. Members were still joining at the time, and are still joining today. We have seen a gradual increase in text volumes from the start, with a total number of Bristol Pounds in circulation now estimated at around 300,000, one year on. This is a good start, but it is only a start given the size of Bristol and its economy.

At this stage our sober estimate is that we have proved the system, but that we will need three years to establish it. We need to get the number of transactions to a significant volume, measured in millions of Bristol Pounds and we need to expand our geographical coverage to take in all the very varied districts of the city.

Significant recent steps towards volume include; an agreement with our largest transport provider that the paper currency should be acceptable on the buses; an agreement with the local authority to accept domestic taxes in Bristol Pounds; first steps in the council procuring services in Bristol Pounds; well-developed negotiations with an energy company.

In terms of geographical area, we have noticed that our first joiners have focussed on particular areas of the city, where we have strong high streets with many independent retailers. Other areas have few shops and very little obvious presence of the local currency. They include some of the most disadvantaged communities in the city. In response we are just launching an initiative based on forming buying groups in these areas, which will source food and other products from local producers using the local currency. It is to be called the Real Economy and will also involve pop up markets and support for new local enterprises. Our inspiration here is the experience of buying groups in Italy, where the Gruppi diAquisto Soledale network, has made a substantial contribution to local economies.

Our links with other local currencies and their infrastructure support in UK and Europe has been strong and positive. Our electronic payment system is based on Cyclos, a software package created by our European partners STRO and delivered to us by Qoin in the Netherlands, in partnership with the UK based Brixton Pound.

Our European connections are continuing with a major new EU project in partnership with Sardex in Sardinia and a new local currency in Catalonia. The aim is to explore different models of local currency, including the provision of credit circles, to assess their potential impact on a local economy as they grow to scale. At the Bristol end this offers a new approach to volume trading and entails a new level of partnership working with the local authority and Bristol Credit Union.

Where will we be in three years time? Will we have truly established the Bristol Pound across the city? Will we be trading at a volume so as to provide a sustainable level of fees from transaction charges? Will we be able to demonstrate a significant local multiplier effect? These are the big questions. I can say at this point, we have plans and we are hopeful.

Some Details

  • Bristol Pounds are bought into existence with pounds sterling and are exchangeable in paper form, or by text or by online transaction.
  • Membership of the scheme is open to individuals and businesses based in the city region. Membership offers the capacity to use electronic means of trading.
  • Anyone can use the paper. It is available at a series of cash points across the city and through online ordering.
  • Only traders can credit the paper currency to their accounts
  • Any member can turn their electronic deposits into sterling and withdraw them at no charge, but few do this, recognising a commitment to try to spend their Bristol pounds as a means of supporting the local economy.
  • The scheme takes fees through a small charge taken by the recipient of a text or online transaction.