The CCIA project

Promoting the local economy with community currency

The challenge

When the conventional monetary system failed, alternative means of exchanging time and goods were created to plug the gaps. One result was the introduction of community currencies (CCs), which have risen rapidly in the years following the financial crisis. 

These new currencies provide an important supplement to conventional money. They can meet the needs of local areas and economies, while also allowing people to build connections in their communities.

The project in brief

The Community Currencies in Action project (CCIA) looked at examples of community currencies in several states across North-West Europe. It pooled knowledge and expertise to strengthen its network of new currency initiatives. Between 2012 and 2015 six community currency pilots were launched.

The CCIA project provided models, frameworks and toolkits for the future implementation of CCs by businesses, local governments and community groups. They also shared expertise across borders to strengthen the ground from which future currencies can be launched.

They had four main goals:

  • Democratising services and organisations
  • Supporting the SME economy
  • Countering inequality and social exclusion
  • Addressing environmental impacts

By the end of the project, CCIA successfully promoted community currencies as a credible vehicle for achieving positive social, environmental and local economic outcomes.

“CCIA was one of the biggest collaborations that ever happened in the field of currencies."

Leander Bindewald of the New Economics Foundation, partners in CCIA

The impact

CCIA connected the public and non-profit sectors as the biggest transnational collaboration project in the field of community currency design and implementation at the time.

One of these was the SoNantes currency in France. Consumers could participate by opening a SoNantes account, which they could use to pay for public transport, council services, and goods and services from local businesses with a smartcard. SoNantes was used by 1 031 individual members and 162 businesses.

The currency is becoming a reference in Europe and its promoters often receive queries from other organisations on how to launch their own currency. Launched in April 2015, it will become the biggest ever community currency backed by a local government.

The CCIA project also helped the pilots develop their respective currencies. This strengthened the local community’s cohesion as well as supported local SME’s. Moreover, CCIA provided North-West Europe with an open web platform, which further developed the pilots by providing guidance and information for new initiatives.

Finally, the project contributed to achieving environmentally beneficial outcomes. A common design is to earn credits through environmentally-friendly activities. The pilot, e-portomonnee was a digital e-wallet designed in this way, giving credits for environmentally friendly behaviour and managed by a publicly owned waste disposal company.

Community currencies proved to be a powerful tool in reshaping services to become more responsive to users’ needs, while empowering users themselves as active participants in delivering these services. CCIA created new ways to exchange time and goods, providing a valuable addition to conventional money and narrowing the profit-oriented economies it supports. They also allowed people to build connections across their communities, whether SMEs networks or local neighbourhoods.


individuals used SoNantes currency in France


businesses used SoNantes currency

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