- The Regio is not legal tender or an "official" means of payment, which means that its acceptance is entirely voluntary. Therefore, it will only function as long as people consider it to be useful, i.e. as long as it can be spent for regional products that people need.
- Its use is limited by geography, and in each region the currency bears a different name.
- Exchanging Regios for other regional currencies or the national currency usually imposes an exchange fee.
- Regios usually do not earn interest, but carry a circulation incentive–i.e. a fee–if not passed on.
The “Regio” is, so to speak, a quality label, which guarantees a certain quality standard and performance:
- It allows a partial de-coupling of the regional economy from the global economy and acts like a semi-permeable membrane around the region, allowing that percentage of economic exchanges which is regional to be carried out in the region’s own currency.
- It keeps the added value of regionally exchanged goods within the regional economy and thus helps to reduce unemployment in its region.
- Its creation is transparent and, therefore, can be democratically controlled.
- It encourages ecological projects and production and thus promotes the shortest efficient transportation route.
- It enhances regional identity, cooperation and responsibility among participants and creates new relationships between consumers and producers.
The initiators of Regional Currency Complements believe that they can strengthen the region with its specific interests and potentials by its own means of exchange. In contrast to programmes that attempt to create more social justice through the transfer of wealth, currency complements offer a new way to increase social equality. They can be seen as innovative means for supporting individual and group initiatives, strengthening their self-worth and generating added social value through collective action.
The development of regional currency complements aims at enabling the inhabitants of a region to preferentially purchase regional goods and services – and to help small and medium-size enterprises who are responsible for creating most of the jobs and profits resulting from production rather than financial investments. Usually the cost of creating workplaces for regional production is a fraction of the cost of workplaces that serve international markets.
The first and best known currency complement (CC)in Germany is the „Chiemgauer“ used in a small region in the southwest of Germany. It was first issued in January 2003, exactly one year after the Euro replaced the Deutsche Mark, and the media quickly took notice: The positive coverage of leading TV and radio stations as well as most major German newspapers soon communicated the currency experiment to other parts of the country.
Now, four years after it started, in March 2007, more than 540 small and medium-sized companies are accepting the Chiemgauer and more than 1,800 people use it as a complementary medium of exchange. In 2006 a total annual turnover in Chiemgauer of approximately 1,400,000 Euro has been generated for the participating companies. The rapid rate of its circulation is seen as a major advantage in comparison to the Euro. Each unit of the common currency, the Euro, is spent around 7 times a year on average, whereas a Chiemgauer voucher is used for transactions more than 21 times during the same period.
The Regiogeld e.V., and its scientific advisory board are in the process of proving that complementary means of payment do not pose a risk to the stability of the Euro, even if they should reach a size which makes them economically relevant on a broader level. The 2006 report to the Club of Rome has already started paving the way by suggesting that regional currency complements may play an important role in supporting sustainable development. Besides this research and advocacy work, the Regiogeld e.V. aims at winning political support for complementary means of payment, recognising that political parties and members of parliament usually have a broader perspective and will acknowledge that regional currency complements are an powerful innovative instrument of any sustainability policy.
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Kennedy, Margrit and Bernard Lietaer. Regionalwährungen: Ein neuer Weg zu nachhaltigem Wohlstand (Regional currencies: A new path to sustainable prosperity). Munich: Riemann Verlag, 2004.
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