This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

BerkShares Encourage Locals to Ditch Dollar

By Hal M. Bundrick

NEW YORK (MainStreet) Minting your own currency, digital or otherwise, may be a trend to bank on. Bitcoin, the decentralized digital currency, has become a bit of a bottle rocket, recently soaring in value to $1,200, only to fizzle back to Earth, now hovering in the $700 range. The volatility is a result of Bitcoin speculators continually reacting to news and rumors of global payment and processing acceptance. Ripple, Litecoin, PeerCoin, anoncoin and dozens of other "altcoins" are competing to outbid bitcoin for consumer adoption.

And then there are BerkShares, the decidedly low-tech currency that has blazed the trail for them all.

The local currency for Berkshire County in western Massachusetts, the printed bills are legal tender for a limited geographic area that launched an innovative "buy local" campaign back in 2006. One million BerkShares were initially distributed, but circulation now tops 4 million.

With BerkShares, your savings are automatically built in to your initial exchange. Issued by Berkshire county banks at a discount, $95 100 BerkShares. Nearly 400 businesses in the region accept the custom currency from customers -- and each other. It's a shrewd strategy to battle the big box stores, who don't accept the bespoke bills.

"Future plans could involve BerkShares checking accounts, electronic transfer of funds, ATM machines, and even a loan program to facilitate the creation of new, local businesses manufacturing more of the goods that are used locally," the BerkShares website says.

That forecasted loan program is apparently becoming a reality. BerkShares are getting a big boost with funding from an international non-profit organization that seeks to help the community expand the program.

The Doen Foundation, a supporter of "socially inclusive" initiatives in the Netherlands, recently awarded a $500,000 grant to the BerkShares organization to launch a local loan program tied to the currency.

"Partly as a result of the financial crisis, people no longer believe in banks, and banks are no longer willing to support many of the small, medium-size enterprises," Doen director Nina Tellegen told Jonathan Betz in an interview for Aljazeera America. "So by introducing this loan system within the BerkShares currency, that's a very important next step."

The Schumacher Center for a New Economics lists 16 active local currencies in the U.S. and provides reference materials detailing the legal issues as well as procedures for creating a local currency.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

 

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,915.07 -70.54 -0.42%
S&P 500 1,964.68 -8.15 -0.41%
NASDAQ 4,396.2040 -22.83 -0.52%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto
Advertising Partners

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs