The Bristol Pound, which can be used by exchanging sterling for the local currency, goes live at noon on Wednesday and can be spent with participating businesses in the region, reports The Telegraph.
British Pounds are spent just like sterling, with £B1 equal in value to £1 sterling and businesses can accept paper Bristol Pounds in payment as they would for sterling. As well as using paper money, the Bristol Pound can also be used online, or via mobile phone.
Creators of the Bristol Pound claim that a local currency has the potential to significantly increase the amount of spending power in the region and ensure that it is channelled into local, independent businesses.
Ciaran Mundy, co-founder of the Bristol Pound, told AFP last month: “Eighty percent of the money leaves the area if it is spent with a multinational – but 80pc stays if it is spent at a local trader.”
“The perception of banking and money is that it’s a very ruthless system: people are out for what they can get,” he added. “This is about saying yes to something new. It’s tapping into a different set of values about money.”
Ahead of the launch on Wednesday, he said: “As more and more shoppers and businesses spend the Bristol Pound, it will keep more of people’s hard earned wages in our communities to be spent again.”
To encourage people to join the scheme, organisers are offering a 5pc Bristol Pound bonus on all sterling amounts despoited into electronic Bristol Pound accounts, up to the first £B100,000 deposited in the scheme. That means they will receive £B105 for every £100 of sterling exchanged.
More than 300 local shops and other businesses, including butchers, bakers and plumbers, have joined the currency. Interest in the scheme proved so strong that the launch had to be postponed from May to September.
Bristol Pound notes feature symbols of local pride, from 19th century religious writer Hannah More to the Concorde aircraft, partly developed in Bristol, and images of the St Paul’s Carnival Caribbean street festival.
Evoking a long history of dissent, one side of the £5 note shows a tiger writing on a wall in graffiti: “O Liberty!”
Bristol is not the first region to have launched its own currency. The Bristol pound is modelled on the Chiemgauer, a German complementary currency of which millions of euros’ worth is traded yearly.
The Cotswold town of Stroud also launched its own currency, and the London borough of Lambeth launched the Brixton Pound.