What can governments do to address the banking crisis, remedy unemployment, poverty and ecological threats, and create conditions for sustainable abundance?


How can time-tested currency innovations such as mutual credit systems help businesses of all sizes deal with cash flow shortages and monetary instability?


What can communities do to leverage their untapped wealth and connect resources that would otherwise remain unused with needs that would otherwise remain unmet?


What can scientific and academic research tell us about how to design and implement more effective and resilient monetary systems?

Currency Proposals

What types of complementary currencies could help us overcome current obstacles to the flourishing of our educational, energy, commercial, and other systems?

Home » Monetary Literacy 101

What are complementary currencies?

Submitted by on September 16, 2010 – 7:43 am2 Comments

Complementary currencies are agreements within a community to accept something else than national currencies as a means of payment.  They are sometimes called community currencies, local currencies or “common tender.”   Not all these common tender currencies are local, however, and some have purposes other than community building.   Because they are designed to function in parallel with conventional money — not replacing but complementing national currencies–we will use the terminology of “complementary” to describe them.

New monetary innovations are now being crafted and used by an ever-growing number of communities worldwide to address a wide array of different social and economic mandates: from effectively caring for the elderly in Japan, to urban renewal in communities like Curitiba or Palmeiras in Brazil, providing new jobs and significantly raising the standard of living in communities, all without incurring costs to government or industry.   The potential and adaptability of social currency innovations are part of the shift from the Industrial Age to a Post-Industrial or Information Age.  Most of them would not have appeared without cheap computing power becoming available. This also explains their impressive growth from a handful to thousands such currency systems worldwide in the past two decades.

Mounting evidence from these practical experiments in diverse communities around the globe demonstrates that complementary currencies can have significant positive impacts on communities that use them.   These new kinds of currencies are addressing critical social problems for which conventional money has proven inadequate such as the erosion of community, ecological deterioration, the need for elderly care, and much more.


  • Bernhard, so glad I finally read your stuff. Now reading New Money for a New World, WOW, GREAT! How can we organize and broadly get currencies addressing every malevolent effect of the current monetary system? IN permaculture they say “the problem is the solution” so thinking of our systemic problem being the currency then the systemic solution is currencies. I have taken up your cause, sir, I think you are right. And Elisabet Sahtouris is a fave of mine too.

  • Mr. Lietaer,
    I am very excited about your work and want to help spread the word. I have been echoing the concepts, history and memes in letters and discussions for a little while now. I hope to help by implementing currencies. I am reading New Money for a New World now and have Creating Wealth in the queue but can hardly contain my excitement at wanting to get started somehow. I live in the US, Tennessee, how can I help best? There is an intentional community near by of a 150 people who are trying to figure out how to let new people in and grow without loosing the principles it was founded on, which at the time was collectivity. It changed to a cooperative land trust after 10 years of collectivity, that was in 1983. I was thinking that a currency might be designed to attract young people without it costing the community in development costs… somehow? Es possible?
    I am a Green Party activist but see avoiding policy battles with a systemic solution, as you suggest, the way to go! Thank you.
    thank you,

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