Feasta Currency Group

The Feasta Currency group is heavily influenced by the thinking of Richard Douthwaite, particularly as developed in his book The Ecology of Money. It believes that the fact that conventional money is issued as a debt means that economies have to grow continually if their money supply is not to contract and cause a financial breakdown. This continual growth is clearly unsustainable and so the group, in collaboration with partners in Ireland and abroad, has been exploring ways in which money can be put into circulation without anyone needing to borrow it first.

A second, but equally important, focus of the group stems from our belief that borrowing to buy a house or to finance a business will prove disastrous for both parties if incomes shrink as energy supplies contract as a result of oil peak. We have therefore been exploring new ways of providing finance. Some of our ideas can be found in the book Fleeing Vesuvius, and in a series of articles by Graham Barnes on the Feasta blog. The group is particularly keen to get membership enquiries from people wanting to help put these ideas into practice.

With regard to reform of the existing financial system, Feasta supports Sensible Money‘s communications on sovereign money (SM are Ireland’s sister organisation to the UK’s Positive Money group, and like them belong to IMMR, the International Movement for Monetary Reform). You can watch videos and read summaries of the presentations of a conference that Feasta and Sensible Money organised in Dublin in 2013, called the Money Mess, here.

Feasta also formally supports Claiming our Future’s work pushing for the introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax (the so-called Robin Hood tax) in Ireland, and participated in strategy meetings. Graham Barnes wrote a blog piece supporting the case for FTT for its positive effect on financials stability and rebalancing the economy.

Current interests also include the development of innovative capital financing options for renewable energy projects with the goal of avoiding the burden of compound interest and redirecting the 45% saved into more productive first use; and the visualisation of data to add impactful insight to the flow of money in a specific sub-economy.

On the alternative finance track, Feasta worked in 2016 and 2017 with NUI Galway and Cultivate on the Irish Research Council supported project the Cloughpenny. This project had dual aims – of creating a prototype blockchain-based currency for the 15 inter-trading communities in the Cloughjordan ecovillage and organising a one-day conference in the ecovillage on Blockchain and Sustainable Communities. This involved research into both emerging blockchain ‘middleware’ aimed at making the somewhat arcane underlying platforms of Bitcoin and Ethereum usable to communities, and in the articulation of community needs for innovative Intentional Currencies.

A prototype based on an Ethereum-fork was delivered in June 2017 and acted as a focus for a number of subsequent meetings at the ecovillage to discuss the terms of use and governance of the project. A co-ordinator for the project based at the ecovillage was identified and a work programme agreed pending allocation of funding. At time of writing such funding has not been finalised and the project is on hold. It is hoped that the workshop and the delivered prototype, together with the accumulated IP will represent sufficient proof of concept to unlock new funding tranches in 2018.

The project was also presented to UCD’s Coding Value team, and initiated a number of important international conversations with leading innovators in the Mutual Credit space, including Sardex in Sardinia.The group has also contributed to a number of other events including the 2016 Liverpool conference of the Guild of Independent Currencies, the Dublin conference on Banking and Monetary Reform and the panel discussion on sustainability at the Irish Film Institute after the showing of Demain in November 2016.

The group continues to field calls regularly from local activists seeking to explore the potential for local currencies to aid local economic development, and assists wherever possible in the scoping, research and detailing of such explorations, seeking to moderate early-stage energy with hard-won experience without dampening enthusiasm. We also host a lively Facebook discussion group with 95 members from around the world.