The English City With Its Own Cryptocurrency

I notice many similarities between HullCoin and things like time banks and loyalty reward programs. Could you talk a little bit about the things that influenced you, and what types of programs were you looking at when you developed the concept for HullCoin?

Bovill: We do have a local time bank, and we work closely with the time bank. It's similar in that we are looking at non-monetary value systems. But we are different in lots of ways: It's not just an hour for an hour. We are looking for a reward system that isn't based on time, it's based on social outcomes. HullCoin has a value, in terms of being able to redeem it for goods or services in a way that a time credit doesn't have. What we want to do is interact with the time bank in a way that allows us to exchange those non-monetary value systems with each other and to create something like a varied secondary economy.

Shepherdson: When we were looking at mutual credit systems and local currencies — there are a lot of local currencies in the U.K. — the predominant ones are the Bristol Pound and the Brixton Pound — what we saw was that there were mutual credit systems (such as time banks) which are user-to-user exchanges, but local currencies were all effectively pegged to fiat currency. Like Lisa said, we were looking around the anti-poverty strategy in the city and we wanted something that would be generated into existence through social outcomes.

We looked at Bitcoin and blockchain technology as a decentralized clearing house which gave us regulatory freedom. It was 2014 when we started looking at this. In the U.K. certainly, a lot of what was going on with Bitcoin and blockchain was still cottage industry. I mean, kids were still mining cryptocurrency in their bedrooms.

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