The city council of Belfast, Northern Ireland, has announced it is introducing a Bitcoin-like cryptocurrency for local goods and services. The technology is currently being trialled, during which the council hope to attract “an ecosystem of stakeholders.”
‘Belfast Coin’ Encourages Locals To Spend Locally
‘Belfast Coin’, developed with Israeli firm Colu, encourages residents to spend money in, and generally contribute to, the local economy. The council hopes to attract local businesses such as shops, restaurants, and services to participate by accepting the coin.
Admittedly Belfast Coin is no match for Bitcoin. Granted, it’ll be no match in terms of network effect, hash rate, decentralization etc. But that’s because the focus is on the local economy of Belfast.
Residents will be able to earn credit rewards by shopping locally, recycling, volunteering and taking part in civic activities. Once the scheme launches in full later this year, it will be accessible through an easy to use mobile phone app.
The local bitcoin-esque currency came about through Belfast’s participation in the ‘100 Resilient Cities’ program; a network of local authorities around the world who share ideas and best practice.
Belfast commissioner for resilience, Grainia Long, explained the city’s hopes for the scheme:
it’s our hope that [Belfast Coin] will initially give an economic boost to local businesses, as well as helping the council achieve other long-term goals, including environmental improvements. This challenge gives us the opportunity to explore how a city currency can bring residents, businesses and city partners together to support inclusive growth… By motivating residents to make a positive difference, we hope Belfast Coin will strengthen their connection to the city they live in.
The Tide Of Crypto-Sentiment Has Turned Once More
It seems like an entire bear market ago that we last reported one of these locally focussed crypto-dabblings. Of course, that’s not counting Liberstad and its City Coin, which is more of an anarcho-thought-experiment than functioning metropolis.
Back then, pioneering cities and communities across the globe would regularly announce such schemes. At the start of 2017, the Local Liverpool Pound (LLP), also developed with Colu, attracted 3000 users in the first month alone. But in the dark and cold crypto-winter of 2018, mainstream sentiment against digital currency in general created an inhospitable environment.
The only notable exception being a small town in Russia, which found that the national economy was an equally inhospitable environment.
It is highly possible that this scheme has been bubbling away on the back-burner until public perceptions of cryptocurrency thawed. Certainly its launch is a positive sign for the general cryptocurrency market.