In fact, Dave has been blogging about mutual credit before either of those organisations existed, and it was through him that I first heard about it. So for me, Lowimpact is the ground zero of the mutual credit world.
When I first read about it in late 2017 and thought ‘there’s something profoundly important here’, I couldn’t have known that, several years later, revisiting Dave’s articles during a spell of unemployment was to be the start of a dive down a very deep rabbit hole (consider yourself warned).
There’s change in the air in the world at large, and it’s been building for some time. People don’t need to be persuaded any more. The projects we’ve had in the works since MCS reached its current iteration in the summer of 2021 are gaining traction, and we’ve learned that an invitation to a plausible alternative is enough to excite all sorts of people. To summarise where our current pilots are at:
Local Loop Lancaster & Morecambe: we’ve got nearly 30 participants in our trial of business-to-business credit clearing based on multilateral obligation set-off. Lancaster & District Chamber of Commerce have signed up, and the council is promoting it. We’re aiming for a critical mass of around 100 businesses before launching it as a commercial service.
Svensk Barter: in partnership with Coompanion SA, a Swedish co-op, and Linköping University, we’ve just relaunched this business barter network on the basis of mutual credit powered by the Credit Commons Protocol.
Shubh Vyapar: working with an Indian social entrepreneur, we’ve designed a model to connect independent businesses with consumers. These ‘high street vouchers’ are essentially use-credit obligations that allow locals to invest spare cash in shops in return for discounts. We’ve worked out the business model and are currently designing a prototype of the app.
Commons Housing Societies: Dave and his wife are putting their house into the commons!
I’m now immersed in this work to the point where much of it – from the mechanics of credit-based exchange and investment to the patterns of the complex adaptive system that is our economy – now feels like second nature, and hard to imagine how I could ever have been ignorant of. Other bits, like project-managing tech development, less so.
However, one of the great rewards of this work, and the people I do it with, is that all understandings, systems, and techniques remain always provisional, always open to new experience. As far as we’re aware, this is uncharted territory, and we’re moving fast.
Even so, the path ahead for MCS seems increasingly clear, and what’s more, 2023 already seems to be the year that all sorts of people are looking to us as the ‘obvious’ partners to work with in co-designing ‘collaborative finance’ platforms for their projects.
These include watershed-scale land restoration via agroecology in Vermont, a circular economy for Edinburgh’s creative community, and business-to-business credit clearing in Switzerland. I can’t imagine any other line of work in which there’s a chance to apply monetary theory, systems thinking, commons governance, and many other ideas to supporting such a wild diversity of wonderful initiatives.
We have major investments in our tech infrastructure planned: a rewrite of the Credit Commons Protocol, scalability of existing networks, and development of a low-code/no-code environment that will enable the core team to build apps almost on-demand. All of these will minimise our technical debt and boost our capacity to ‘replicate and federate’ collaborative finance systems. So far this year, we’ve been able to offer a confident ‘yes’ to a whole variety of new partnerships.
However, we’ve got more work in prospect than we can handle, and what we really need now is more creative human capacity.
So, this is a call-out to the Lowimpact network. If you’re intrigued by the idea of the Credit Commons, then have a read of some of the articles here, check out MCS’ website, get a feel for the depth of the vision, decide if there’s something here that calls to you, and come back with questions. If, like me, you’re a long-time ‘lurker’ who just can’t look away from the omnicrisis, then this is your invitation to join us in getting – as best we can perceive – to the heart of the matter.
If you’re interested, contact us.
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's
1Emmanuel April 8th, 2023
I always look forward to seeing this newsletter. Since 2017 when Dr Bendel introduced this to us at the University of Cumbria, during our MBA. I have also articulated and written use cases for my community and a section of our business community. Just hoping to get things together and get involved.
Love your works. Thanks for sharing
2Dave Darby April 9th, 2023
Emmanuel - very interesting. Contact me via the contact page on this site - would love to chat.