Bristol Pound: Currency Launched To Boost City
Bristol has launched its own currency in an attempt to turn around the fortunes of the city's retailers by boosting the local economy.
The 'Bristol Pound' follows a number of schemes in smaller areas - including London's Brixton and Lewes in East Sussex - but it is the first local currency to be launched in a British city.
Worth exactly £1, it can be bought at exchange points around the city and spent in local shops and businesses.
Residents living in Bristol are also able to pay some local taxes in the currency and the city's council has said its 17,000 staff can receive part of their pay in Bristol Pounds.
Project founder Ciaran Mundy said the scheme will give the city's companies a much-needed boost.
"There is an amazing range of diverse businesses in Bristol, and this scheme will help support them in increasingly difficult economic times," he told Sky News.
"The Bristol Pound will help lock spending into the local economy," he said, adding that normally around half of money spent with multinationals ends up abroad.
Mr Mundy continued: "This is a way for people to commit to spending by values and support their local economy.
"And when a business is paid in the currency, they will look to spend it with other Bristol businesses, keeping it within the community."
Over 1,300 people have said they want to take part in the project - including 300 businesses - and the high level of interest meant the launch date was postponed from May until September.
The Bristol Pound will be the first local currency in the UK that can be spent electronically, over the internet or by text message, via an account with Bristol Credit Union.
Local artists, students and children designed the notes which feature eight images representing the city, including St Paul's carnival and Bristol Old Vic theatre.
The organisers hope that £1m worth of the currency will be spent this year, having a tangible positive impact on the city's high street.
"The Bristol Pound is not going to solve the world's economic problems," Mr Mundy said, "But it's something that local people can do to support their city together."
The not-for-profit project is run by the Bristol Pound Community Interest Company and Bristol Credit Union.