Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Netsquared/USAID Challenge Proposal

I have a submitted a proposal to the Netsquared.org/USAID challenge and I would love all of you to take a moment and go on over and register and vote for my project. I have until the 12th of December to get enough votes to get into the top 15.

The short description of my project:
Develop a mobile phone m-banking application aimed at enabling the creation of community based complementary currencies. Using open-source software, FrontlineSMS, the application would operate in much the same way as Wizzit and mPesa.

We will be working closely with Ken Banks who helped create FrontlineSMS - and whose technology is involved with the very successful Ushahidi.

There is much written on the net about complementary currencies of which there are over 1,900 currently in operation. From Switzerland to USA to Argentina to South Africa and on to New Zealand and Malaysia to Japan. Some of these are even sanctioned by governments and can be used to pay local taxes.

As we can all see in today's world there are series questions around the viability of our current financial system. We all see very clearly that when our national currency fails to circulate we are left with almost no means of trading with each other. This is not because I don't have something to sell that someone wants to buy - rather the missing ingredient is money.

My goal is to explore ways of adding additional resiliency to our financial system - one that has multiple layers of currencies. Not to end the national currency but rather to add to the system (a lot of this thinking is based on ideas of complex systems and their need for resiliency over efficiency). There are other inherent issues that are raised by the way our money is created that will ultimately need to be addressed - the false scarcity, the need for perpetual growth, the problems of compounded interest and the competitive nature that the system helps propagate.

Ultimately creating complementary currencies and getting them into the poorest communities could offer some novel development opportunities. The problem in these communities, once again, is not that no one has labor to sell or doesn't need stuff. The problem is no one has the means to pay each other!!

Okay I think I need to leave it at that. I have of course dropped some big ideas without indepth explanations. But, I wanted to keep this shorter then it already is.

So if this seems interesting and you want to help vote for my project!! (pretty please)


1 comment:

tphyahoo said...

Very promising sounding project. I left a get-out-the-vote message at the ripplepay googlegroup:

http://groups.google.com/group/rippleusers/browse_thread/thread/58d66d6e74f0daae

thomas.