It took a global economic collapse for timebanking to emerge as the next wave of the alternative economy. While readers may already be familier with the concept of a local energy trading system or LETS, and South Africa already has a well-established complimentary currency in the form of the Talent, timebanking brings with it a particular form of equality — we are all timebound and the only constraints we have are therefore time-based. Exchanging one hour of your time for another person’s hour may seem absurd, but it is the basis for the time-banking system, a system which allows users to trade services.
There are over 80 timebanks in the USA and a several in the UK and Scandenavia alone. Unlike the LETS system where users still set prices of goods and services, but in a complimentary currency for example, the Talent, timebanking is done on a one-to-one basis, i.e. one hour = one currency unit.
Voluntary currencies such as the Time Dollar are therefore not competing with traditional complimentary currencies such as Australia’s Shell and Pip, and South Africa’s Talent but rather creating a third tier currency based upon volunatrism and mutual aid.
Remarkably instead of competition, allthese alternative and complimentary currencies are based upon community cooperation and have faired a lot better than mainstream fiat currencies which are based upon the failed global banking system and a corporate-capitalist military which has to occupy neighbouring countries in order to enforce the law.
If local energy trading with Talents and time-banking doesn’t grab you, there’s always COGS, a Swedish system which utilises the gift economy to “pay forward”. Instead of accepting the one-to-one exchange, users give the proceeds of the exchange to a third party as a “gift” thereby changing economic patterns which may have become too straightjacketed or outmoded by todays fast changing customs and traditions.