Just at the end of last year, the Dutch government was alerting people against trusting alternative currencies such as bitcoin, citing their highly volatile exchange rates and no accountable issuing institution.
Apart from the worldwide bitcoin success, local currencies are gaining more and more momentum. In the United Kingdom, London has the Brixton pound. In Belgium, the torekes is the alternative currency of Ghent. The sardex is the one of Sardinia, the Wir is Switzerland’s and Ithaca Hours are used in New York.
In The Netherlands, since last year, Amsterdam has a currency called makkie, which now joins the older currency called noppes. Other cities in The Netherlands have created their own money as well. Groningen has the gulden, Gelder has the gelre, Achterhoeke has the achthoeker and Leiden has the zonnemunt. Rotterdam also has two local currencies, the first being the zuiderling, used in the south of the city, while the other is called the dam, used throughout Rotterdam. Both have come into use in 2013 and circulate along with the euro.
Many things can be said about such alternative currencies but most of them are a consequence to the financial crisis and economic backdrop. With less money, but more time on their hands, people can exchange services and expertise or find additional customers with other currencies. These local currencies create an additional market and encourage cooperation within the community, and while the Dutch Central Bank doest not consider them legal tender, they are regulated and taxed by the Belastingdienst, which requires payment records. Henk van Arkel from the Social Trade Organisation in Utrecht claims that alternative currencies come and go, running from between one and four years on average, but that this is influenced by the unemployment rate and financial situation of the medium.