While nineteen Member States of the European Union now use the euro, private initiatives for local currencies are multiplying everywhere.
A closed circuit
Make no mistake: the monetary and financial code establishes that only the Banque de France is authorized to issue banknotes which are legal tender, in other words euros.
Logical consequence: any merchant or company on the national territory is obliged to accept this currency, and only this one.
But nothing prevents an association or a community from inventing another medium capable of serving as a measure of values for local commercial exchanges.
Since 2014, the law has in fact recognized these local currencies as a legal means of payment, as soon as the structures of the social and solidarity economy are at the initiative.
However, they can only be used within the framework of an agreement between the different users and operate in a closed circuit.
In practice, it is therefore a question of using them for specific purchases and on a determined territory, most often a municipality or a grouping of municipalities.
You will therefore not be able to deposit these funds with your bank and they will never become part of the workings of the global banking system.
A united approach
Far from constituting a disadvantage, it is even the main argument advanced by the followers of these currencies, designed to support a social, solidarity, environmental and responsible approach.
In fact, since it can only be exchanged in a specific area, this money is essentially at the service of local commerce.
A good way to revitalize the economy of a territory and develop short consumption circuits.
Very popular, these local initiatives have thus taken the form of an activist and citizen approach.
Especially since all the euros exchanged in units of local currencies are invested in ethical finance through La Nef, Crédit coopératif or Crédit municipal.
In practice, this money is used in a complementary way to the official currency.
Currency exchange offices are set up, most often in businesses where professionals and individuals can barter euros for local payment vouchers of the same value, in order to avoid the tedious conversion stage.
In the same vein of simplicity, cents are also returned in euros.
A multitude of currencies
France is said to have more than 80 local currencies, while a few thousand circulate globally. A pioneer in France, the Agir pour le vivant association created the bee in January 2010, in Villeneuve-sur-Lot. In this case, the participating companies sign a quality charter which commits them to respecting the environment, working conditions and the usefulness of their goods and services. In Toulouse, the sol-violet has been very successful since its launch in May 2011 as a “complementary and solidarity currency”.
The Eusko was launched in the same year in the Basque Country and has since grown by leaps and bounds, with over 2 million units in circulation.
Let us also quote the doume in the Puy-de-Dôme, the firefly in Ardèche or the gonette in Lyon, which listed more than 251,000 units in circulation in 2020. And, development of dematerialized payments requires, several of these currencies also offer a version digital.
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