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Redesigning the concept of money: a service design perspective on complementary currency systems

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-01-27, 14:01 authored by Ida TelalbasicIda Telalbasic
The current failures in income distribution among communities, social entrepreneurs and start-up founders result from deficit of money for accessing goods and services. However, it is increasingly recognized that money has the potential to be redesigned in order to serve a different purpose and to adapt to the emerging paradigm of the collaborative economy. Within this context, this article presents a study aimed to explore complementary currency systems as resilient strategies. This is done by adopting a service design perspective to analyse case studies from developing and developed economies. Both contexts are investigated in order to identify whether the case studies are founded by individuals, communities or governments. Furthermore, organizational models, as well as the main motivations and conditions for the emergence of these alternative economic models, are examined. Moreover, the key drivers for creating complementary currency systems are highlighted. For instance, in the developing world, those systems stem from the need for establishing financial inclusion and building stronger trust and community ties. Instead, in developed economies, they rise in order to use existing local resources, foster individual empowerment, enhance collaboration with a community, as well as achieve economic benefit. Complementary currency systems are here proposed as a tool for linking unmet needs with unused resources. They also enable informal financial institutions contributing to behavioural change through meritocracy. Once those systems are designed as small-scale initiatives, prototyped and implemented in different communities, they have the potential to become effective strategies for subversion and intervention. The case studies show that equal participation and local empowerment can lead to proactive democratic models increasing economic stability. In conclusion, this article argues that service design, through systems of permanent or temporary access to credit, not only responds to contemporary socio-economic conditions, but also contributes to shape new ways of practicing democratized economics.



  • Loughborough University London

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Journal of Design, Business and Society






TELALBASIC, I., 2017. Redesigning the concept of money: a service design perspective on complementary currency systems. Journal of Design, Business and Society, 3(1), pp. 21-44.


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This paper was published in the journal Journal of Design, Business and Society and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1386/dbs.3.1.21_1.






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