The Brixton Pound Community Interest Company launches an e-currency today called the ‘B£e’, which will allow people to pay by text or online using the local currency. Customers buying B£e will do so via an online bank transfer and can set up a standing order so that they always have money in their Brixton Pound accounts. As an incentive to use the e-currency, they will receive a 10% bonus when they sign up. They can then pay Brixton businesses via text message. The aim is to make it easier to spend Brixton pounds, thereby strengthening the network of local independent businesses signed up to the Pound.
How does it work exactly? If I wanted to pay with B£e at Mango Landin, for example, I would simply have to send a text to the e-bank with details of the payment included. The format of the text runs: ‘pay’ + customer pin + the business username + amount to pay. Both the customer and the business would then receive texts confirming the payment and their new account balances.
Alternatively, the business itself can send a text to the e-bank requesting a payment from the customer. The customer then receives a message asking them to confirm payment with a temporary password and their own pin number.
The online account is password protected and texts and payments are encrypted using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), with a transaction limit of B£e1000.
By introducing the paperless scheme, the Brixton Pound CIC hope to bolster the circulation of Brixton pounds. For businesses, it means a secure, low cost way of accepting electronic payment, especially if they don’t have a credit/debit card machine. And they can now accept higher transactions in Brixton pounds than might previously have been possible, since most people are unlikely to carry large amounts of the paper currency on their person.
Businesses can either change their B£e back to sterling for a 10% exchange fee or avoid the fee by re-spending their Brixton pound with other Brixton businesses, thus consolidating the network of local companies trading with each other.
The paper currency – which is 2 years old today – will continue to run in its usual way. Almost 200 business are now signed up to the Brixton Pound and B£35,000 are in circulation. The notes are being reissued at the launch party tonight with a new design.
Go here for more information and to register for the e-currency
For any local businesses interested in signing up to the Brixton Pound e-currency, there will be training days provided. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.