The concept of a local currency is not a new one. The first one to introduce such a currency is the Canadian city of Calgary – dubbed as “Calgary Dollar,“ which has been in existence since 1996 and being used alongside the Federally controlled Canadian Dollar to create a value chain for the local economy that stays within the domestic ecosystem. With the digital transformation taking place in the global ecosystems & the popularity of the mainstream Cryptocurrencies, Calgary rebranded & introduced the digital version called the ‘Calgary Digital Dollar’ in December of 2018. Taking inspiration from the Canadian city’s experiment, Vienna, a major European city introduced a digital token called ‘Vienna token.’ Announced earlier this year, the reward token was conceptualized in collaboration between the City of Vienna & the Vienna University of Economics and Business — Research Institute for Cryptoeconomics. The city is looking eventually at developing a reward token ecosystem, where the citizens are not only incentivized for simple things like riding a bike or providing feedback about city services, but are able to use those tokens on things like parking tickets etc.
Now another major European city has jumped in this arena – the city of Belfast has introduced a new incentive-based digital currency called Belfast Coin. The mandate for the coin is pretty similar to the one introduced by Vienna token. Residents of Belfast will be able to accumulate Belfast Coins in return for a variety of activities including shopping local, recycling, volunteering and taking part in civic activities. Additionally, it will also be available as a payment mechanism at local shops, cafes & restaurants. All the residents need to do is to download the Colu App and connect a source of payment. The Belfast Coin rewards platform has come into being as a result of collaboration between the Belfast city council & Colu – a UK & Israel based fintech company which empowers cities by connecting their citizens, businesses & institutions. This will eventually help Belfast develop & thrive.
The Belfast coin is expected to be launched sometime later this year and is a part of city’s participation in 100 Resilient Cities – a program pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, aimed at helping cities around the world to become resilient to physical, social & economic challenges towards a more sustainable future. The incentivized program aims at encouraging residents of the city to contribute towards building a resilient local ecosystem & increase green activity to improve the environment of the city as well. The program will be looking to sign up partners till the anticipated launch date to build a strong ecosystem of stakeholders. Major city institutions, Large employers & higher Educational institutes will be roped in to contribute towards the social & economic growth of the city.
Colu mobile payment App already operates in four different cities of U.K & Israel. It is empowering local communities with its 200K user base & an average of 300K monthly transactions at more than 2000 local businesses signed up. The biggest adoption is in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, where more than quarter of the population uses Colu App. Apart from designing, developing & implementing Belfast Coin, Colu is playing a part in the development of Belfast city by opening a unique concept store which will encourage spur creativity & business initiative. And before I sign off… would like to add a little clarification – No, Colu is not a blockchain based App & Belfast Coin is not to associated with any existing cryptocurrencies.