“Community currencies stand in contrast to conventional money whose sources are closed to most of us. There are many varieties of these, but their basic principles are simple and general. They are open in the sense that they can be created by any association choosing to come together for the purposes of exchange; they are free libre in the way that speech is, or ought to be, free. Whereas conventional money is a commodity kept artificially scarce by remote suppliers the banks, regulated in turn by a central bank, a community currency is simply a measure of exchange whose supply is limited only by the willingness of participants to trade. In this way, the scope for what people do normally, buying and selling, is extended without the restrictions imposed by normal cash.
Community currencies are both a radical subversion of capitalism and its natural extension. It is possible, even necessary, to conceive of them as complementary to existing economic forms and interests, operating at present on a minute scale that offers scant threat to the status quo — so many mice running around the basement, as it were. Thus businesses may accept payment in local and national currencies together; participants in these exchange circuits often pay taxes on their transactions; small increments in human welfare are generated.