A community currency is a type of complementary currency that is used by groups with a common bond, like members of a locality, or association, and designed to meet their needs. A community currency may be geography-based, making it a type of local currency, or it may be used within a business-based, or online community.
Community currencies aim at using money as a tool to achieve social or environmental objectives. According to the New Economics Foundation partner Community Currencies in Action. Some of the purposes for community currencies identified by Community Currencies in Action.
- Democratizing services and organisations: time credits for volunteering encourage people to actively engage in their community while making services, such as elderly care, more democratic. Zeitvorsoge.
- Supporting small and medium enterprises: Community currencies can serve as a means to promote independent shops over large corporations since they keep on circulating locally. They can also help SMEs support each other financially by lending and receiving credit, goods and services within the currency network. Examples are: Bristol Pound, SoNantes, TradeQoin,Chiemgauer.
- Countering inequality and social exclusion: Specially designed currencies can address inequality issues by giving everyone the chance to get involved in their community; for instance by rewarding participation in voluntary programs.
- Addressing environmental impacts: Community currencies can play a role in better valuation of environmental resources and providing an incentive for more sustainable behavior. For example, the Belgian Portemonnee rewards residents for environmentally positive actions such as composting. Reward currencies can also encourage businesses to adopt more environmentally sound practices.
Several software packages have been written supporting the management of community currencies.In 1998, Richard Kay, a Senior Lecturer at Birmingham City University wrote a "Multi-registry System" specification for routing and processing community currency transactions using an approach designed to be decentralized, with no single point of control or failure, using the Domain Name System for server discovery.