a community currency & credit clearing co-op  -  design draft 2011may10-jun27

a simple live online ledger system for supporting local commerce
  • barter, shopping, CSA, LETS, mutual credit, micro-loans, etc
  • finding & matching people re goods/services offered/wanted
  • secure login with any standard web browser
  • always online & fully up-to-date
  • reliable & inexpensive to manage & operate
  • community owned & operated network of redundant webservers
  • open-source linux-based server & database software

general operations
  • operated as a members-only co-operative, founded on mutual respect and trust
  • zero interest on debt/loans, no interest or demurrage on credit, no penalties fines etc
  • all transactions proceed via the secure online web browser interface (& ipod sms etc)
  • no printed money or other physical or anonymous tokens will be used
  • within the co-op, money is measured in co-op credits (c's), the value determined by de-facto usage, not linked with nor dependent on the value of 'us-dollars' or any other external currency.  (however, members may be allowed to trade bunches of external currency, as an item in exchange for co-op credits... buyer beware, and use it fast! :)
  • to help co-op members & guests find or value particular goods or services, and determine the trustworthiness of others, the member info & transaction databases can be searched/scanned at any time.  (see find members and find transactions examples below)
  • members & guests can provide contact info and keywords for goods/services offered/wanted, and set access limits for privacy.  (see edit member info example below)

how a transaction is made

1 - proposal - buyer and seller each log into their co-op accounts from anywhere on the internet, and enter details for the proposed transaction (seller, buyer, item, value).  for verification, committed transaction entries are signed by each party with standard public-key encryption.  (see log in and new transaction examples below)

2 - witness - optionally at the request of buyer or seller, one or more 'third-party' members may also log into their accounts and verify & sign the transaction details.  transactions with a guest must be witnessed by a full member (eg, the guest's sponsor).

3 - contract - when buyer & seller agree on the transaction details, and everyone has signed, and buyer & seller will remain within their debt & credit limits, then the agreed value in co-op credits is transferred from the buyer's account to the seller's account, and the seller is obligated to provide the agreed transaction item.  (at any time before everyone has signed, a dis-agreeable proposal may be 'dropped' by either the buyer or seller.)

4 - completion - the transaction is noted as complete when all parties have logged in and reported that the buyer's and seller's obligations are fulfilled.  an incomplete contract may be reported as reversed (cancelled or replaced by another contract), or broken (closed as-is), and the contract is finally closed when the reports of all parties are in agreement.

5 - record - for auditing & reference, a detailed record of every transaction is saved forever in the co-op's transaction archive database, which is mirrored around the network on redundant servers.  a summary of transaction volume & status is shown with each member's info, and all the transactions of any member can be listed.  (see examples below - find transactions - trans info - find members - member info)

example forms & info screens

login - find members - member info - find trans - trans info - new trans - edit trans - edit member - admin voting

(all of these example forms are non-functioning)

examples - login


examples - find members



  find in

found 3 profiles with "lentils" offered and "tucson" in contact

joined      update       name            trans  vol  complete   bal    status
2010-06-08 2011-05-15 solarcafe 365 1440c 100% -75 c guest 2009-07-04 2011-05-14 desertdabbawala 4567 34567c 98% -48 c active 2010-04-02 2011-05-13 fourthright 123 2345c 95% +367 c active
examples - member info

name: fourthright   id: 432   joined: 2010-04-02

status: active   limits: –500c +2500c   updated: 2011-05-13   balance: +367 c

history: completed 123 of 135 contracts (91%), 2345c of 2475c (95%)


name: Fourthright Foods
street: 4321 Speedway
city: Tucson AZ 85714
phone: 1-520-555-4321
email: food at fourthright.xyz
web: http://www.fourthright.xyz/


bulk dry goods, organic natural foods, herbs, vitamins
grains & flour - barley buckwheat corn millet oats quinoa rice rye wheat
beans & legumes - adukis black garbanzos green kidney lentils peas
seeds & nuts - almonds cashews flax pumpkin sesame sunflower walnuts


part time sales person most weekends
guitar lessons

public-key: c417b044 dce33073 d52a622a b8d0cc1c ed285b7e bd6adcb3 9124ca41 623cfc02 etc

examples - find transactions

in past of

found 2 transactions with "sprout4095" in past month

trans    update       seller       buyer         item     value      status
1234567 2011-05-14 sprout4095 twosun webpage 15 c complete 1234789 2011-05-12 fourthright sprout4095 food 50 c proposal
examples - transaction info

transaction: complete   id: 1234567   started: 2011-05-10   updated: 2011-05-14

item: webpage update contact info etc   value: 15 c

seller: sprout4095 - contract 2011-05-10 - complete 2011-05-12

buyer: twosun - contract 2011-05-10 - complete 2011-05-13
    note: thanks!

witness: thirdeye - contract 2011-05-11 - complete 2011-05-14

examples - new transaction

status: proposal   started: 2011-05-12

seller & buyer

requested witnesses

item description
item value & estimated completion time

notes & comments

requested / reported transaction status

private key  (for signature, not saved)

privacy / access for this transaction record

examples - edit transaction

status: proposal   id: 1234789   started: 2011-05-12   updated: 2011-05-13

seller: fourthright - signed 2011-05-13 verify

buyer: sprout4095 - not yet signed

witness: thirdeye - not yet signed

item: food order [c1234789]   value: 65 c   time: about 3 days (2011-05-18)
  qty size description [id] price
  1 50# rice brown long organic [g428] 30c
  1 25# lentils green organic [b257] 20c
  1 10# sunflower seeds shelled raw organic [s123] 15c
  total 3 items 85# 65c

seller & buyer

requested witnesses

item description
item value & estimated completion time

notes & comments

requested / reported transaction status

private key  (for signature, not saved)

privacy / access for this transaction record

examples - edit member info

name: sprout4095   id: 4095   joined: 2011-05-07   sponsors: thirdeye

status: guest   limits: –100c +500c   updated: 2011-05-14   balance: +15 c

history: completed 1 of 1 contracts (100%), 15c of 15c (100%)




public key for sprout4095's signature
private key  (to verify public key, not saved)

login password for sprout4095  (repeat to verify)

requested sponsors

privacy / access for sprout4095's member info


examples - admin voting

administrative voting by 148 currently active members (69% of all 213 members)
  showing 1 undecided item of 7 items currently on ballot  

request to update membership status of solarcafe
  posted: 2011-06-12 by twosun   updated: 2011-06-18   decision: pending
  note: solarcafe has been a guest for 1 year, would like to become a full member

 votes         for         % of votes  active  members 
21 > 25.5 member 73% 17% 12% 7 > 8.5 guest 24% 6% 4% 6 > 0 any (17%) (4%) (3%) 1 > 1 none 3% 1% 0%
35 total 100% 24% 16%

preferred membership status for solarcafe

private key  (for signature, not saved)

privacy / access for these votes

co-op administration (draft!)
  • operating costs - actual operating & administrative expenses should be distributed fairly among everyone, proportionally to each one's total transaction volume forever (elephant economics).  by design, and with appropriate use of computer & internet technology, operations overhead and administrative time & labor can be minimized, quite possibly approaching zero.
  • government - the co-op is governed by all members directly (not by a board of directors).  ongoing discussions can be facilitated online with secure archiving blog/chat software.  all meetings & archives are open to all co-op members & guests, and visitors may observe silently.
  • voting - voting will be done online (see admin voting example, above).  administrative decisions require a simple majority of all active membersactive members are members who've had, during the past minimum activity period, a positive average balance and greater than minimum activity volume (see table below).  visitors, guests, and non-active members may not vote.
  • outreach - new visitors may register themselves into the co-op, and look around to see if they're interested in joining.  to protect privacy of members & guests, visitors are considered 'anyone on the internet', and 'member info' of visitors will not be visible in general database searches (see find members example).  inactive/abandoned visitor accounts can be deleted automatically.
  • joining - when sponsored by at least one full member, a visitor has guest status, and will be visible in database searches, and may participate in witnessed transactions.  sponsorship of guests is given and withdrawn at the discretion of each sponsor.  guests may become full members by administrative decision, after a minimum participation period and transaction volume.  (see admin voting example above, and table below)
  • limits - the software will automatically prevent members & guests from signing proposals which would 'over-draft' their debt or credit limit.  in case of miscellaneous 'bad behavior', one's membership status may be re-evaluated by administrative decision (see admin voting example, above).  guests without sponsors are considered to be visitors.
  • leaving - a member or guest may formally & ethically leave the co-op only with an account balance of zero.  otherwise, an account may be considered as truly abandoned after a fairly long period with no activity or contact (eg, 1-4 years), and closed by administrative decision.  any remaining debt may absorbed as operating expenses, or credit applied toward operating expenses, by transferring it to the co-op operations account.
  • returning - all data of closed accounts will remain archived, and a closed account might later be re-opened by the original owner (or heir?), with reversal to the original balance if it was transfered to the co-op operations account.
co-op & member 'weight classes'
  • to protect the community of 'lighter-weight' co-op members & guests, separate co-ops maybe should be formed for members and projects which are much 'heavier-weight'.  further discussion & design needed in this area...
  • parameters for each weight class may be adjusted by administrative decision (see table below).
  • in these examples, money is measured in co-op credits (c's), with 1 c equivalent to about one or two current us-dollars.  (it might be educational to value 1 c as equivalent to about 1/100 of one pre-depression us-dollar, ie, one penny in 1925 :)

  weight class                    guest        light        middle        heavy   

credit limit ('savings')         +500 c      +2,500 c     +50,000 c   +1,000,000 c
debt limit (line of credit)      -100 c        -500 c     -10,000 c     -200,000 c

min activity volume (voting)       n/a          500 c      10,000 c      200,000 c
min activity period                n/a        1 year        1 year         1 year

min abandonment period           1 year       2 years       4 years        8 years

min total volume (weight class)   none        1,250 c      25,000 c      500,000 c
min participation period          none        1 year        2 years        4 years

references & resources
a community currency & credit clearing co-op
also see - tucson time traders - wild west end internet co-op - consensus timers - tb-kc library