Credit Commons infrastructure

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The Credit Commons infrastructure is a proposal for new infrastructure to link new and existing grassroots local exchange communities and commercial trade exchanges with an open exchange protocol. Such an infrastructure for inter-community exchange cannot be considered merely as a technological project but requires a sociotechnical approach. Ideally the approach should be participative, involving not only the exchanges but other organisations such as academic institutions. Existing complementary currency interchange solutions such as the ZART system (Huber et Martignoni, 2013) based around Zurich and CES in Cape Town have fallen short of expectations because of both technical and social constraints, but they demonstrate clearly the need for a more formal, more accessible solution which we propose be called ‘The Credit Commons’. In this sense, the proposed infrastructure would operate on the following levels developed in this paper:

Mutual credit: inclusive, cross-community participation, based on local communities accounting systems and mutual credit principles. Business entities engaging in bartering, online payments and transactions services, timebanks, LETS each with their respective time management systems are possible Credit Commons nodes. The Commons Market, an awareness mechanism for inter-community exchanges and transactions, including a community noticeboard, an open marketplace, where entities can exchange directly from their accounting systems and where new members will be, transparently, integrated.

The open payments layer is the technical backbone of the Credit Commons. Existing commercial and grassroots accounting systems would connect to the credit commons through a public API, but would be granted credit only by actors who trust them. The Credit Commons implies a participative design methodology, integrating a horizontal gender approach on Credit Common’s impact, social metrics and evaluation.

Credit commons is an initiative designed and supported by various organizations including the Foundation, the Community Forge Association, Community Exchange Systems, the Biomimicry Swiss Network and the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO) and others.

This paper is to be presented during the The International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) Conference Regional Conference in May 2016.