Abstract – It is generally accepted that massive tourism and a vibrant indigenous culture are mutually exclusive. Bali has so far proven to be an exception to this rule. This article explores a hitherto overlooked socio-economic mechanism behind that exception. It is a dual complementary currency system used for centuries by highly decentralized and democratic decision-making organizations. The reasons why such a dual currency system is so effective in mobilizing popular cultural creativity is investigated; and a systems framework proposed to determine the conditions under which this model could be applicable outside of Bali. This framework is then tested with a second case study: traditional shell currencies in Papua New Guinea. Finally, some potential applications in areas in the world other than traditional cultures are portrayed.