Where we've come from

Bristol Pound was a currency made by local people, for local people.

Set up by a group of campaigners and financial activists in 2012, the digital Bristol Pound scheme was a network of over 2000 individuals and independent businesses who used digital and paper currency to trade in Bristol, it localised supply chains and kept money circulating in our city.

The digital currency ran until July 2020, when it was retired to make way for a new scheme, Bristol Pay.

Paper Bristol Pounds expired and left circulation in September 2021. 

Bristol has always been a fertile environment for creativity, innovation and community building. It is this environment that, over time, has incubated a strong sense of ethics and justice around social, environmental and economic change. It makes perfect sense that in this city, we should experiment with new ways to own our own money too.

The financial crisis in 2008 was a wake up call for many of us. We came to realise that our city’s economic system extracts wealth from communities, harming the real local economy. It damages the environment, perpetuates inequality and suffocates high streets.

Around a table in a pub in early 2009, we decided to do something about it. The Bristol Pound was established as a movement driven by the community, which aimed to redefine the way we live and work with money.

Bristol Pound became the most successful local currency in the UK. At its peak, hundreds of transactions were made with Bristol Pounds every week, amounting to over £1million per year and well over £6million in total. Members could use Bristol Pound for bus or train rides, to buy groceries, pay tradesmen, and even their council tax!

The Bristol Pound’s very existence showed that bottom up community organising works, and that together, we can create a greener, fairer and stronger local economy.

9 years of running the local currency taught us a lot. Perhaps the most important realisation is that to really make a significant impact on our local economy, the original Bristol Pound model of encouraging localisation was not enough. We needed a far more ambitious approach for the future.

And so the idea of Bristol Pay was born.