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The Rise of Artisanal Cash

(Photo: New York Times)

Take a trip to Bixton, a trendy neighborhood in London. At many popular, independently owned cafes and shops, you can pay in the local currency. That’s not the British pound. It’s a locally produced and accepted bill called the Brixton pound, which is pictured above. It reflects a trendy new fashion: artisanal currency. Dan Crane writes about it in the New York Times:

These are small-batch currencies designed by locals and lovingly handled by millennials, who came of age during the rise of the Internet, the meltdown of the stock market and Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency revelations, and would be forgiven for becoming more wary of credit and debit cards. […]

Many of the new alternative currencies have the look and feel of the regular legal tender accepted at such places. Most include anticounterfeiting measures like holograms and serial numbers. But they are more eye-catching.

These paper bills lack government backing, but they’re accepted in communities that want to keep their money local:

The local currency, though, is intended not as collectible but to encourage trade at the community businesses where they are accepted, rather than chain stores, where money taken in tends to flow out of town and into the coffers of multinational corporations. (Compare it to the farmers’ market: Homegrown lettuce now has a whole new meaning.)

-via Glenn Reynolds


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