Once upon a time, David Chaum introduced DigiCash, followed by Wei Dai's b-money. Finally, in 2009 came Bitcoin, which with its limited virtual machine inspired Ethereum, the "planetary scale computer." In parallel with the cryptocurrencies, the community currencies have flourished at the grass root level. Now has come the time to combine these two.
With Trustlines Network it is becoming possible to create new media of exchange, running on Ethereum. Additionally, there are other projects, such as Sikoba and NEM, with largely similar goals, Trustlines is applying the original Ripple idea directly on Ethereum, providing enough of freedom for the individual currencies to customise their properties.
ValueCraft is a project building upon Trustlines. Our goal is to provide the existing and new community currencies with a modern user experience and infrastructure required for successful modern community currencies.
While most of us happily stroll ahead in our lives, believing in money and progress, others are concerned about our addiction to exponential growth and the underlying structures in our financial system. With simple math it is possible to show that in mere 400 years we will boil our planet, should we continue on less than 3% annual growth in energy consumption. While there may be ways to continue continue economic growth without increasing energy consumption, there are apparently also other structural problems in our economic and monetary systems.
While these problems are heavily debated with widely differing opinions, and while solving them is clearly beyond a simple grassroots project, perhaps there is something that can be done. For example, in the 1930's, during the Great Depression, a number of communities launched their own local currencies, such as the so-called Wörgl Experiment and the still existing Swiss WIR Bank, the latter having today the total assets of some 3 billion CHF and annual turnover over 6 billion CHF, show that it is indeed possible to run local currency systems without relying on governments or central banks.
ValueCraft is an experiment to run community currencies on a blockchain. Our present idea is to build upon Trustlines network, a system designed to create community backed media of exchange, or as they call it, "people powered money." The basic idea is that anyone can create a cryptocurrency vallet in their mobile phone (and back it up elsewhere), create "trustlines" with a number of their friends, and start to use the resulting completely decentralised medium of exchange. With such a transitive network of trust relationships, complete strangers can "pay" to each other, provided that there is some path of trustlines between them.
In ValueCraft, our focus will be on the user experience, supporting communities and outsourcing the underlying hard technology from Trustlines network. Our goal is to allow existing community currencies, such as the Bristol Pound or Chiemgauer, to move into using blockchains and smart phones based streamlined user interface, if they wish. At this point, our first concrete "customer" is likely to be Helsinki time bank. We are actively looking for other communities that would like to join the experiment.
Changing our shared values
On a large scale, we believe that we — the whole humanity — have to change some of our core values within the next few decades. Lingering to the idea of perpetual growth is leading us over the brink. Since our current monetary system, with its compound interest and basically unregulated debt expansion, is inherently bound to the idea of growth, we hope that having working alternative currencies will help people to expand their perspectives.
If the ValueCraft idea works and communities increasingly adopt local currencies that work in parallel with the major fiat moneys, basing the system on blockchains — a global shared open ledger — may allow the system to scale up to global extend. The system allows local...Read more »