What Are Complementary Currencies?

Complementary Currencies are monetary networks that using a medium of exchange in complement to the national currency, whether at the local, regional or national level. These include a variety of currency-issuance models including Mutual Credit, Convertible Voucher, and Cryptographic mediums of exchange, which we generally call currencies.

The purposes for designing and implementing complementary currency systems vary widely, but in general to achieve particular monetary, economic, ecological and social outcomes.

Some designs wish to demonstrate new methods of issuing money, while others wish to move towards an ecologically-sustainable steady-state economy, encourage cooperation and reciprocation, self-reliance and mutual aid, local production, micro-small enterprise development, urban revitalization, socio-economic solidarity. The CC Database categorizes the many reasons complementary currencies are implemented.

To avoid misunderstanding between the terms “complementary currency”, “alternative currency”, “community currency” or “local currency”, complementary currencies aim to protect, stimulate or re-orient the economy; community currencies aim to protect and strengthen a community; local currencies aim to protect and strengthen a territory, and alternative currencies seek to provide a full alternative or replacement to legal tender currencies. By definition and practice in nearly all cases, complementary currencies are not alternative currencies. [See Blanc, Jérôme (2011). “Classifying ‘CCs’: Community, complementary and local currencies’ types and generations” (PDF). International Journal of Community Currency Research 15: 4–10.]

Spend time browsing the documents in the open CC Library and engaging in discussion and you will be struck by the unity and diversity in the complementary currency ecosystem.

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