LETS marketplace from a feature ‘phone

This post follows on from a previous post: Alternative currencies – Simbi and the Flying Brick. Thinking about how alternative currencies can be designed to suit the particular circumstances they are intended to improve, I suddenly realised that it should now be possible to implement LETS in any part of the world where people generally have access to feature ‘phones – which nowadays includes many places where access to hard cash is extremely difficult.

LETS Stands for Local Exchange and Trading Scheme. LETS systems exists to enable groups of people who for any reason at all find trading with traditional ‘hard’ currencies difficult.

For instance: people without enough money, people denied access to markets, people who want to be sure that the results of their efforts benefit their community as much as possible.

LETS systems must be able to do four simple things:

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Alternative currencies – Simbi and the Flying Brick

Credit: danyythemartian – DeviantArt

The Flying Brick was the printed directory of the Brixton LETS Scheme (this isn’t the image we used – the original is lost in the mists of time – or a cardboard box in the attic).

LETS stood for Local Exchange and Trading Scheme. Brixton LETS was started in the second wave of alternative, local currency schemes in 1992 in Brixton, South London, and I’m proud to say I was one of the founding group, and one of the team that ran the scheme in its heyday over the following few years.

The idea was that members would trade together using our own local currency – the Brick (what else?) – which was a ‘virtual’ currency – a number in a database, with no physical existence. And that this currency would have different rules to ‘normal’ money, specifically: Continue reading “Alternative currencies – Simbi and the Flying Brick”

Trust metrics – your future distributed reputation?

In my report on the Startup Speed Dating & Pitching event of nov 20th, I observed (without originality), that trust was the real currency of the sharing economy sector.

I had a discussion after the presentations with another attendee whose name I have shamefully forgotten (if you’re reading, get in touch!) about the future importance of trust metrics, and he came up with a very interesting example that makes it clear how such ratings derived from a particular service context can ripple out into a wider arena.

Consider the scenario (he said), of a boutique hotel, with relatively high prices. The hotel has, say, a 60% occupancy rate. Obviously, it would be good to improve this. But simply lowering prices will encourage budget tourists whose appearance in the lobby might detract from the supposed ‘cachet’ of the brand (yes, I know, I don’t want to stay there either, if they’re so snooty [actually, if I get rich, I might book their best suite and turn up looking like a slob, just for kicks] – but this is a business conversation, remember).

So, they’re stuck.

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Co-Founder Speed Dating & Pitching #4

Another thought provoking evening out.

Two in-depth presentations, followed by a dizzying parade of 30 second pitches. Event details here.

Mobify

First presentation up was from one of the founders of Canadian tech outfit Mobify, Peter McLachlan. I didn’t know them, but it seems they have provided tools and support for many major brands to translate their web offering to mobile formats. We were treated to a compressed history of the outfit, a classic tech startup of three Computer Science graduates having some insight and then plugging away making clever things happen one after another – by their own admission, many of them blind alleys.

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