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Austrian National Taushring Conference

With the merest whiff of an invitation, picked up from February's Solidarity Economy conference in Vienna, I landed myself this Sunday in a conference with reps from all the major Tauschrings in Austria. My stated intent was to promote the work of Community Forge in the face of widespread Cyclos adoption, but I was right to be flexible about that. The meeting was conducted in Teutonic fashion with everyone having a say (though I understood nothing of the proceedings). I was struck again by ready to participate and act these people were, compared to the isolation of LETS schemes in the UK and inertia of schemes in Switzerland.

Today will go down in history though, as the day that Cyclos was revealed to me. All the theorising between me and Mary Fee in 2006 is realised in Cyclos. In those days it was powerful accounting for complementary currencies. In Austria they have extended Cyclos to allow online trading between schemes and advertising offers and wants on the local, regional, national and international levels. They have many participating schemes, and are truly building an alternative economy and community with different values. All their currencies are based on time, and one hout of time is worth the same to everyone. They have a 'foreign' account in each system which serves exactly the same purpose as the marketplace balancing account, and which must stay within certain limits (else the currency would deflate). They are looking forwart to the passing of a new law which will allow them, for a large fee, to take on certin banking function.

This has implications for the direction of marketplace module and Community Forge. Cyclos is allowing the Grand Vision for local money to move forward, especially by linking the communities together, but Community Forge is doing the right thing providing a different 'business' model and making it easy to install. Marketplace will never compete with Cyclos, but it needs to position itself at the simple end of the market, going for the first time buyers, and, stressing the benefits of the Drupal platform and making it simple to get started, and to adapt.

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