Chiasma Creative Currencies Event

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I attended the Chiasma Creative Currencies event, hosted by Design in Action at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Technology Solutions Centre in Edinburgh. The event brought together designers, academics and currency enthusiasts to work together to develop potential business ideas for the potential currencies of the future, such as:

LOCAL CURRENCIES: Local currencies, such as the Brixton Pound and the LETS Saint Exchange, offer ways to generate and retain money in a local economy, in some ways running counter to distributed cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, yet both are potentially empowering models. Where is the value and opportunities for businesses and consumers to capitalise on these markets?

BITCOIN: Cryptocurrencies can appear to be shrouded in mystery, with elusive ‘mining’ reminiscent of gaming, while the media is full of stories about illegal or Dark Net activities that make use of the distributed peer-peer network. Yet Bitcoin (a software-based online payment system), for example, is open-source – offering a new model for financial transactions based on trust, and maintained through its Blockchain transaction database, challenging the government-regulated fiat currencies that we all use today. How will Bitcoin and its successors disrupt conventional transaction models and how can Design ideate around these series of transactions?

FINTECH: The rise in contactless payments and mobile banking raises issues of security. Blockchain databases and reputable traders enable provenance and tracking of complex transactions and hash function that make up a Bitcoin, but workarounds are available to attempt true anonymous transactions. What are the potential implications for FinTech and how can developers and artists present and solve these challenges in experimental and thought provoking ways?

The process was as challenging and exciting as these ‘sand pit’ type events are, meeting lots of new people and continually having to ideate and pitch ideas. One of the biggest differences of this event was that it was located in RBS’s Technology Solutions Centre, which enables people to explore ideas for new financial technologies in settings that simulate where they will be used. Finance is a different world!

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Through this process and working with a really interesting bunch of people I am developing a couple of ideas:

One, link the citizen income to a time bank contribution to society. The citizen income is a policy proposal whereby each and every citizen receives a guaranteed income just for being a citizen. Except in situations where people require extra help through disability, for example, there would be no other state benefits.The benefits are that people would be able to not work as much but rather be able to contribute to their families and communities. It is Green Party policy although it’s recent airing did not go well (read more about it here). One recurrent concern with the Citizen Income is that people get something  for nothing. One way around this is to link the Citizen Income with an obligation to contribute to a community through a time bank. Thus each citizen would receive £6000 for being a citizen but they would also be required to contribute 50 hours to their community through the time bank – walking dogs, fetching groceries from the shop or doing what ever they can.

Two, creating a community institution that recognises, rewards and builds a community of gratitude and gift exchange – Thnku. Watch this space to see what happens with this one.

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James Duggan

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