What is local currency?
Local currency is real money that fulfills the original purpose of currency: to facilitate commerce. It is not for accumulation, speculation, or any of the dynamics that can lead to increased inequality and societal instability.
How does local currency help strengthen a community?
It provides built-in incentives for money to flow into the local economy and to continue circulating there, without being drawn out by national corporate chains. It increases business for local merchants, allowing them to diversify their selection or hire new employees. Ultimately, it leads to an increase in local suppliers and the establishment of longer local supply chains, further strengthening the merchant community. This also reduces the need for goods and services to be delivered from farther away, which cuts the use of oil and improves the area’s carbon footprint.
More background may be found on the About Local Currency page.
How do I get BNotes?
BNotes may be obtained at any participating merchant who is running a cambio, or money exchange. Each $10 may be exchanged for 11 BNotes (BN11), which then trade equal to dollars, so you get a built-in 10% discount. They are available in multiples of $10, up to $200 (BN220). BNotes may also be received as change from participating merchants.
Where can I spend my BNotes?
Participating merchants are listed in our BNote Merchant and Service Provider Directory, which is continually updated with new businesses. A printed version of the Directory will also be available, and merchants with a physical store will display the BNote logo. BNotes may also be used for any payments within the community if the recipient is willing to accept them. So feel free to use them to pay for any goods or services, or give them as gifts or allowances, at bake sales and yard sales, or any other way you would ordinarily use cash!
As a small business, how can I use and spend my BNotes?
Businesses that purchase goods or supplies from other local businesses that accept BNotes will be able to use them to pay for some or all of those transactions. You may also give them as change, to keep them in circulation, and we will be providing promotional cash register tents that encourage shoppers to “Ask for your change in BNotes”. You may use them for services that your business ordinarily makes use of, such as printing, courier services, or repairs. You may give work-related bonuses or pay employees partially in BNotes if they choose to accept them and support other businesses in the network. In the case that you do end up with BNotes left over, they may be exchanged for dollars. See or download our Merchant Options graphic.
Can I use BNotes to pay my utilities or taxes?
Not yet. As we move toward implementing the BNote city-wide, we will be working with Baltimore City on ways to incorporate the BNote into the available payment methods for city services and local taxes. With city participation, small businesses may be able to pay a portion of their city bills, such as water bills, licensing fees, or local taxes, in BNotes. The city could then use that fund to pay for summer jobs for young people, or perhaps eventually fund larger projects like a community land trust that would create affordable housing stock.
Are they exchangeable for dollars?
Yes. They may be exchanged for dollars at any cambio, most of which are located in participating businesses. To balance the initial discount, 11 BNotes may be exchanged for $10, and we encourage businesses and residents to keep BNotes circulating within their community.
What is backing the BNote?
The BNote is backed by the dollars which have been exchaged into the system. These are being held by our fiscal sponsor, Fusion Partnerships, at a small, local bank and are available for exchange at any time. To date (May 2011), no BNotes have been exchanged back for dollars. More importantly, BNotes are backed by the value of the goods and services we create and provide for each other in our communites. This is the real source of all value in society, and it is something that no national currency embodies. Ultimately, money simply enables us to create value for each other in whatever way makes us most fully human, and to carry that value to our other transactions as we go about our lives. In that sense, the social backing for money of our own creation is as important as any underlying common store of value.
Why was Hampden the focus area for the first BNote rollout?
Aside from being a natural enclave in the heart of Baltimore, Hampden already presents a much higher initial degree of self-sustaining community than most other Baltimore neighborhoods. Residents do a higher percentage of their shopping on the Avenue or at local shops. These factors create an environment in which a successful launch may be undertaken, and in which the likelihood of BNotes becoming an established part of the community are high. In addition, Hampden is becoming a noted tourist location, and the influx of visitors will provide good visibility as the system proves itself. By the time of the official BNote launch, however, businesses in many Baltimore neighborhoods including Remington, Fell’s Point, Hamilton, Station North, and Mt. Vernon were already participating.
When will BNotes be coming to my neighborhood?
BNote-accepting merchants are part of a larger economic ecosystem that extends into all corners of the city and into the surrounding suburbs. Some businesses in these other areas already participate in the network, and as the system gets stronger, we will be concentrating on bringing businesses across and all around the city on board. You can help by encouraging the places you regularly shop to accept and circulate BNotes – have them contact us to be added to the Directory!