Local currency microcredit
In the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, the ESF is supporting microcredits issued in a choice of currencies: the euro plus two local currencies. These are the Chiemgauer, which circulates in the area of Rosenheim and Traunstein, and the Sterntaler in and around Berchtesgaden. What’s more, while the euro loans bear interest, the local currency loans are interest-free.
The microcredits are managed by Regios, a co-operative which also operates the ‘Regiocard’ cashcard for local currencies.
The Chiemgauer is the most successful local currency. Its turnover last year was €5.1 million, and €400,000-worth is in circulation. It is accepted by 600 businesses and used regularly by 2,500 people. To stimulate the local economy, the Chiemgauer reverses the logic of saving and earning interest – it depreciates by 8% a year. If you don’t spend your Chiemgauers within 3 months of receiving them, you have to revalidate them by sticking on a stamp costing 2% of the face value. Through the 5% service charge payable when it is converted into euros, it has raised €100,000 for 230 local associations.
In Germany, Austria and Switzerland there are 28 local currencies in the Regiogeld association, usable at 2,650 businesses, and a further 37 schemes are in the pipeline, one of which is in the Netherlands.
Guardian article on the Chiemgauer:
Regios microcredit: http://www.regios.eu/dienstleister/mikrokredite/