Could a Local Currency Save Your SME?

In an era when bargain shopping is at its peak, consumers can often overlook the independent shops on their doorstop, which give their area the character it deserves.

As a small business, this can mean tough times for those struggling to keep local interest up when there’s a cheaper chain under-pricing you at every turn, just down the road.

However, there may be a saving grace.

What is a local currency?

Local currencies are ‘complementary currencies’ that can be used alongside the British Pound in shops within a certain region, area or city.

The current cities to host their own currencies include; Bristol, Brixton, Exeter, Kingston with Glasgow, Liverpool and Birmingham looking to become a part of movement.

A local currency may be either a digital currency or a physical note (or both!) often featuring the work and faces of prominent local figures.

Local currencies are not considered legal tender by The Bank of England, but instead hold the same worth as a shop-bought gift card, although local currency can be used in multiple locations where it is accepted.

How can they help independent traders?

When spending the British Pound in a local shop, 80p of every £1 goes into the pockets of those companies outside the region.

However, by using a local currency, only every 36p of £1 spent will leave the region, the rest of it going back into the community, as the shopkeeper will also have to spend the money locally, and so on.

There is huge potential for local currency to help independent traders and small businesses in the UK. However, it requires consumers to be willing to embrace alternative means of exchange, rather than relying on the given British Pound.

By adopting a local currency in your business (alongside nationwide currency), you encourage spenders to engage with their local communities and help them to understand the importance of local produce and businesses.

There is also an environmental bonus as people will travel less distance to shop, a win-win for environmentally-conscious businesses!

Would it work for your business?

As a small, local and independent business, there are plenty of advantages to implementing a local currency.

There is also a responsibility of local traders to embrace local currency in order for it to remain effective, which founders of the Stroud Pound unfortunately discovered when there wasn’t enough money in circulation because  ‘traders refused to join the scheme’.

If you’re based in Bristol, the chances are that you’ve already heard about the Bristol Pound, especially considering their scheme has 2,000 registered users.

Or, if you’re in Brixton, you might already be familiar with the Brixton Pound this year got its very own cash machine. It can even be used to pay council tax and even to pay wages!

If you’re lucky enough to live and operate your business from one of the cities with a scheme, you can simply get in touch with them about becoming involved.

Do you think a local currency would work for your business? Are you already an avid user of a local currency? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook!



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