Over 350 years ago, Sweden made the revolutionary decision to become the first European country to print paper money. Zoom forward to the present day, and the ultra-progressive country is racing to become the world’s first cashless society.
The number of notes and coins in Sweden has plummeted by 40% since 2009, and just 2% of all payments made in 2015 were conducted in cash. Over half of the country’s banks are now completely cashless.
They’re not the only ones interested in ditching paper money—the move to digital currencies is a rapidly growing trend all over the globe. And it has huge implications on how and where we use our money.
One blockchain-based company, Colu, is determined to ensure this trend strengthens local communities instead of giant corporations.
To increase public awareness about what Colu does (more on this below), and get people excited about bringing Colu to their cities, they have launched a new ambassador program. Colu is offering 200 CLN tokens to up to 2,000 ambassadors who sign up and complete their first challenge. Sign up here!
An Entirely New Future For The Payments Industry
As technology like mobile phones and the internet continue to become an increasingly vital part of our everyday lives, it makes perfect sense that more and more people worldwide are switching to digital payment systems.
Millenials are largely the trailblazers adopting this technology, with over 50% already regularly using their phones to pay, compared to 29% of average consumers polled within the UK. Expect to see these numbers rapidly rise globally over the coming months and years ahead.
As digital payments become more in demand, small businesses will increasingly feel the pressure to broaden the means of payment they accept. This can be quite burdensome for small merchants that often get hit the hardest with high payment processing fees.
This is a very unfortunate side effect of the rapid globalization and increase in cross-border commerce we are going through. It’s so easy to order anything you want online these days that people are forgetting to support local small businesses in their own community.
We need a better payment solution that not only allows consumers to effortlessly pay from their phones, but also helps small, local businesses thrive and flourish.
Thankfully, this already exists—it’s called community currency.
Community currencies, also known as local currencies, allow wealth to be produced and retained within a specific location, like a city or neighborhood. This strengthens participation between community members and local businesses, facilitating growth within the community in the long-term.
Community currencies are the ideal solution for those that wish to think globally and act locally. Their potential to transform the payments industry is huge—and the process has already begun.
Say hello to Colu, a company whose goal is to completely change the way people think about and use money—from something that is merely used to purchase goods and services, to something that can truly bring people together, strengthen local economies, and promote local prosperity through the use of an alternative financial model.
The team at Colu has some big goals they’re working on. They are utilizing the mass movement to digital payments systems and blockchain technology to encourage sustainable and equitable economic growth, one city at a time.
Colu’s vision is to create an alternative financial model that is open, decentralized, and equitable, with community at its core.
Colu’s model eliminates the need for a central financial authority and instead places the power in the hands of the community. Using Colu’s network, community members become stakeholders within their local economy, brought together with the shared goal of local prosperity.
The result is a local financial ecosystem that truly benefits everyone involved.
As the Colu team puts it:
We believe that change starts at the local level and spreads to the top. We are driving a global change in the economy and the meaning of money from the wallet up.
Colu has created a digital wallet that anyone can download on their phone for free.
Using this wallet, you can use a credit or debit card to top-up you account and shop in your city, and receive rewards in the form of your local community currency.
You can then effortlessly find local businesses around your city to shop at, from restaurants to barbershops, receiving cash back and local offers along the way. When it comes time to pay, you just whip out your phone and the payment is instantly sent to the local merchant with the swipe of a finger, no cash or card required.
The result? Users get more for their money while building stronger connections with their local community, and local businesses are able to attract more customers and flourish—ultimately allowing that city to blossom with growth.
Colu’s Current Communities
Colu’s headquarters are located in Tel Aviv, Israel, so naturally they first implemented a community currency in their home city, at the end of 2016.
The community currency was dubbed the “Florentin shekel,” named after Tel Aviv’s most artsy neighborhood, and it has been a massive success.
Nowadays, there are businesses on pretty much every block of Tel Aviv that accept Colu payments. Even many startups within the city give their employees a set amount of shekels on Colu each month to pay for their lunches.
Just look at the sheer amount of businesses that work with Colu in Tel Aviv now!
Colu has also expanded to Haifa, Israel and internationally to East London and Liverpool in the United Kingdom. There are over 150,000 users of Colu across these four communities today.
Anyone who has used the app become big fans of how easy Colu makes it to support local businesses while receiving cash back as a reward for helping strengthen their community’s economy.
One user from Liverpool states:
I can’t believe there hasn’t been something like the Colu app before. It’s been so cool to share a local currency we made within our neighborhood, that actually has value.
Where Blockchain Comes In
So far, Colu users can only load up fiat currencies into their digital wallet. But that is beginning to change, as Colu has been rolling out crypto-backed community currencies on top of the Colu Local Network (CLN).
The CLN is an open-source project on a public blockchain, ensuring complete transparency. All tokens issued on the CLN will be ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum, which leverages Ethereum’s already existing smart contract capabilities.
In the near future, communities around the world will be able to launch their very own community currencies, regardless of their size, location, or transactional volume.
Colu’s whitepaper states what the ramifications for this means:
The implication is an open-source and distributed financial framework, facilitating a safe and transparent payment system, accessible to all.
Colu will begin airdropping their community currencies to users who have reached a certain volume of transactions by a certain date. For example, those in the UK must make at least £30 worth of purchases through Colu within 2 weeks, and those that manage to do that will automatically receive the newly minted community currencies airdropped into their Colu wallets.
The team explained their rationale for the airdrop in a recent blog post:
The airdrop campaign allows us to introduce crypto backed community currencies to our users, but more importantly the community currency airdrop supports our long-term vision of creating strong local communities by bringing crypto to the masses.
It’s an ingenious idea when you think about it, as already loyal users of their app—most of whom may not be familiar with blockchain technology or cryptocurrencies—will suddenly be able to effortlessly hold and use crypto for the first time.
Furthermore, the crypto is actually useful in their everyday lives, as they’ll be able to buy goods and services all over their city, from a cup of coffee at their favorite cafe to a fancy candlelit dinner downtown.
It’s fair to say that we can expect to see countless more communities around the world begin to adopt Colu’s technology to strengthen their cities with community currencies.
In a world where giant corporations like Amazon and Walmart are guzzling up insane profits, small and local businesses have been greatly suffering. It’s truly refreshing to see a company dedicated to encouraging communities to buy locally and divert profits back to the little guys.
Blockchain technology is all about decentralization, after all, and Colu is clearly devoted to this ideal.
Colu is living proof that blockchain technology isn’t some far-off fantasy—it’s working and happening right now. It’s rewarding everyday individuals for supporting local businesses. It’s empowering engaged communities to thrive and bloom. It’s creating an alternative model of finance that reduces cost, increases choice, and puts financial control in the hands of the community.
It’s making the world a better place, one city at a time.
If you’re interested in bringing Colu to your own community and get rewards while doing so, sign up for their ambassador program.