June 23, 2018
Forget Bitcoins, time to shift on Time-Based Currency.
Forget Bitcoins, time to shift on Time-Based Currency.

Time banking is an old Idea and ready to make a comeback. Time banks are communities that deal in time as a currency; instead of money. The members of this community earn, collect and spend time credits. The presences of these banks have been noticed since the 1980s, but the popularity has increased significantly since the start of the recession in 2008. Now time banks have been working in 34 countries. There are more than 300-time banks established in 40 US states located everywhere from Appalachia to Oakland and almost 300 banks are working within the United Kingdom. A significant number of time banks established in Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan, Senegal, Argentina, Israel, Greece, and Spain.


The propelling motive behind the time banking is to use this idea to reduce recidivism rates with the help of diversionary programs for first-time juvenile offenders; help re-entry of for ex-convicts; provide health care, professional training for job and social services in local housing complexes; rehabilitation of substance abuse recovery; prevent institutionalization of disabled children through parental support networks; provide elder care and foster women’s rights initiatives in Senegal. These banks are also working under the management of institutions like art galleries. Time banking is also progressing online, with websites trying to follow an old-fashioned idea of neighbourly favours for a digital generation.

Bitcoin currency

There is another type of banking has started establishing in the market known as Bitcoin Currency. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and also named as an electronic payment system invented by an unidentified programmer, or group of programmers, under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin was introduced on 31 October 2008 to a cryptography mailing list and released as open-source software in 2009. The identity of Nakamoto remains unknown, though many have claimed to know it. The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the blockchain, which uses bitcoin as its unit of account. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, the U.S. Treasury categorises bitcoin as a decentralised virtual currency. Bitcoin, is still not able to get its aimed value and position in the market because of some big flaws. It is not even able to get the trust of the public.

Why Time-Based currency is better than Bitcoin currency?

Time banking has some edge on Bitcoin because of its shared value creation and because of its ethical values. The success of time banking can be explained by some running examples. The Fureai Kippu (the caring relationships ticket) is an important example of time banking. It is a generic label for a series of systems developed to fulfil the needs of care provision for a growing ageing population. A version of Fureai Kippu involves a classic reciprocal exchange system based on time currency focused on person-to-person activity, similar to Edgar Cahn’s time banking system. In this scheme, volunteers earn time credits as currency for providing care to anyone in the system in need of it. Different tasks have different rewards, with some tasks being valued at more than one-time currency per hour of work. The Fureai Kippu has been operating in Japan since the 1990s.

The Member Organized Resource Exchange (MORE) program

One of the pioneering organisations in co-production is the St. Louis Timebank, in operations since 1981 as a neighbourhood based time dollar exchange. The Member Organized Resource Exchange (MORE) program has become its most vital way of engaging neighbours in reciprocal help. MORE uses a time-dollar system of barter exchange, where members can offer services to each other. What is key is that hours of service not only help their neighbours but translate into dollars too. People can use the time dollars to exchange services with neighbours, purchase services at the Grace Hill Neighborhood Health Centers and even purchase household items at MORE stores. It was reported that MORE helps increasing members’ self-confidence as they see the value of their work converted into assets.

TimeBanks USA

TimeBanks USA is a non-profit organisation founded in 1995 to promote Timebanking (originally known in the USA as Time Dollars). It is the umbrella for all local, regional and national time banking schemes in the USA. Time Banking ideator, Edgar Cahn, was one of the founders of the organisation.

Local involvement and Spice Innovations Ltd.

An evolution of the overall notion of time banking came with Spice Innovations Ltd. This organisation put forward the concept of Time Credits as tools used to encourage local involvement for social purposes. Time Credits transform the way the public and voluntary sector agencies engage with communities by mobilising individuals and social networks as the core agents of change 14. The main difference between ordinary time banking and Time Credits is the understandings of Spice are the fact that the latter is a hour-denominated system provided by agencies (e.g. community associations, housing corporations, local government) to individuals who contribute to the community — and thus not just person to person exchanges. People can correspondingly use Time Credits to access events, training and leisure services, as well as trade Time Credits with neighbours. The evidence shows that Spice Time Credits result in engagement of the many rather than the few and more cooperative public and community services.

It is easy

The usage is very interesting and easy to understand. When volunteers register at a local Time Bank, they submit to the central register (today mostly an online database) the types of services they are willing to offer and correspondingly the help they seek. These offers and wants directories can then be searched, members can contact other members to ask for help and record the delivered services through the online accounts. Typical services exchanged in a Time Bank include child care, elderly care, language lessons, home repair, gardening, companionship, computer tuition, help with shopping etc.

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