Citizens will be able to use Belfast Coin to pay for local services
Belfast City Council is to launch a Bitcoin-style digital currency which citizens will be able to use to pay for local goods and services.
The authority has worked alongside Israeil tech firm Colu to create Belfast Coin, a virtual currency that will launch across the Northern Irish capital later this year. The technology is currently going through a pilot phase, during which the council hopes to “build an ecosystem of stakeholders”.
The authority hopes to attract “shops, cafes, restaurants and other businesses” across the city to sign up to allow customers to use the currency to pay for their goods and services, according to Belfast commissioner for resilience Grainia Long.
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Once it launches in full, the city’s residents will be able to use Belfast Coin through their phones by downloading an app and creating an account. According to the council, credit can then be gained “in return for a range of activities, including shopping local, recycling, volunteering and taking part in civic activities”.
The authority said that the launch of the currency was enabled by the city’s membership of the 100 Resilient Cities network of local government bodies around the world. Belfast said that, during the development of the virtual currency, it shared ideas and best practice with other members of the Rockefeller Foundation-funded programme.
Long said: “Belfast Coin will be introduced later this year and it’s our hope that it will initially give an economic boost to local businesses, as well as helping the council achieve other long-term goals, including environmental improvements. This challenge gives us the opportunity to explore how a city currency can bring residents, businesses and city partners together to support inclusive growth.”
She added: “It’s also really exciting to be working alongside other global cities to learn from each other about urban problem-solving and sharing best practice. By motivating residents to make a positive difference, we hope Belfast Coin will strengthen their connection to the city they live in.”