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Credit Commons prototype now online!

I'm proud to announce the Credit Commons reference implementation is now available. This is the result of a decade of working with community currencies, several false starts, a white paper in 2016, a collaboration with Dil Green last year, and about four months of coding.

The important part is the protocol, or in software terms, the REST API which allows ledgers to federate using credit commons accounting. That means, as with mutual credit: no assets go on or off the ledger, the sum of all account balances is zero, and balances must remain within agreed positive and negative balance limits, but with the added capacity for recursive linking of ledgers. I have implemented this protocol in the form of a web service, which can be used either to augment any web platform with accounting functionality, or as a collectively managed ledger keeping records between organisations. That means that any entity with a web connection can create or join a ledger: individuals, mutual credit communities, and non-mutual credit communities.

I've rewritten the home page taking care to minimise the political ideology and monetary theory. It's hard enough just explaining in english what the protocol does, and everybody else can decide what they want to do with it; I hope to see more people engaging with the idea using the #creditcommons hashtag, in the solidarity economy sector, local government, business barter, and especially the blockchain sector.

Comparison with blockchain will be inevitable although the paradigm and language are completely different. Cryptocurrencies regarded the medium of exchange as a speculative asset with a market price and this made fundraising easy, but ultimately undermined the use of those tokens in trade. The credit commons sees things the other way around. Producers' promises to deliver a dollar's worth of goods are worth a dollar to all their customers, and never more.

This makes it impossible to raise finance from those who would speculate on the unit of account itself. The challenge of financing development of what is at the moment, only a prototype, is compounded by the fact that Credit Commons ledgers are supposed to be run independently by their users, more than by a centralised platform organisation which could own its users and extract revenue from them. Development will have to come from government or philanthropic organisations, users (or future users) and/or volunteers. It is with that in mind that I'm working with Dil Green and a self selected UK team Mutual Credit Services in UK to package and promote the mutual credit and the Credit Commons for different sectors of the economy, ready for the COVID recession.

Attempts have been made before to use mutual credit to join local currencies before, but always clunky, wedded to particular platforms or technologies, and of course single tiered.

  • Universal Currency does not actually connect business barter networks, but simply provides an additional currency and an additional platform for members of member networks
  • Clearing central was built to mediate between different instances of CES,
  • the experimental ZART system was a Cyclos instance connecting Cyclos instances together around Zurich.

To help raise the profile of this initiative, I'll be writing blog posts (let me know if you can help to place articles) and running ask me anything sessions. The first one will be Friday 30th October at 11am, GMT. Book here.

My next task, in addition to continuous promotion, is to connect the 300+ Community Forge sites and more CES sites, this will take many many months!

All the code is on gitlab, including installation instructions, a concepts document, and architectural description. There is also a demo site (refreshed every hour) and accompanying video:

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