South London has its own currency – and small businesses are winning » SMEInsider

South London has its own currency – and small businesses are winning

The Brixton Pound, a hyperlocal currency used in the South London district of Brixton, has proved hugely popular with small businesses in the area and is now set to roll out contactless terminals throughout the area.

The currency, which was set up in 2009 to encourage residents to shop at local businesses and markets, began in paper form before introducing a pay-by-text feature in 2011. 250 businesses in the area now accept payments in the physical currency, and 160 by text.

The team behind the technology say that it “will put Brixton at the forefront of innovation in technology and supporting local businesses,” and “will complement the existing paper currency and text-payment systems, encouraging more local spending and keeping money in the community.”

The new system will allow customers to use their smartphones and similar devices to make payments in B£ via NFC technology.

Notes feature famous faces associated with the area, such as David Bowie, the basketball player Luol Deng and the French-British secret agent Violette Szabo. The B£ creators say that they drew on the “history of strong community spirit, rich mix of culture and backgrounds,” and “vestiges of revolution, activism, change, dynamic people, and attracting the avant-garde.”

Just five areas in the UK have attempted to introduce urban currencies: Brixton, Bristol and the market towns Stroud, Lewes and Totnes. Oxford and Kingston are thought to be considering similar schemes.