Bristol Pound sparks interest around the world
BRISTOL'S new currency has taken to the streets amid a clamour of national and international news coverage.
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Peter Main, was surrounded by TV crews, photographers and journalists at the official launch in Corn Street yesterday.
He symbolically bought a loaf of bread in the first transaction with the new Bristol Pound.
Among the TV crews was Jay Cao and a cameraman who are based in London and feed news to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Mr Cao said: "We just find it very interesting that people in a city are using a different currency – it's something we have never heard of before."
Ciaran Mundy, director of the non-profit making trust which was set up to launch the currency, said he had been interviewed by journalists and TV crews from around the world, including several European countries, Russian television and a Chinese news agency.
As the hands on the clock of the Corn Exchange reached 12.11pm – the exact time of noon in Bristol – an old bell was rung in the tradition of gathering traders to the "nails" to conduct business.
Chris Sunderland, one of the currency's trustees, said the Bristol Pound opened a new era of trade in the city.
He later told the Post they knew from the outset that the new currency would have to be citywide in order for it to work.
It also needed an electronic payment system – you can use your mobile phone to buy from shops – because most purchases these days are not made with cash.
More than 300 traders have signed up to the scheme as well as about 1,000 individuals.
The Lord Mayor said: "I know how important this is for local traders and businesses.
"It will provide a great boost for the city."
Mr Mundy said: "This is a fantastic day to have finally got here.
"It's worth remembering that it's a non-for-profit scheme and done with voluntary support."
He handed over a set of the first £B1, £B5, £B10 and £B20 notes to Councillor Guy Poultney which will be displayed in M shed museum.
Hundreds of people including schoolchildren and professional artists took part in a competition to find the best designs for the notes which are technically vouchers but are interchangeable with sterling.
The Bristol Pound is backed by the Bristol Credit Union, a banking co-operative which is a member of the Financial Services Agency (FSA) and which means money in accounts is safeguarded up to a maximum £85,000.
Bristol East Labour MP Kerry McCarthy set up an all-party parliamentary committee which led to a change in the law so that credit unions could handle the accounts of traders and voluntary organisations, not just individuals.
This rule change opened the door for the credit union to get involved in working in partnership with the Bristol Pound's trustees.
Ms McCarthy said: "I think it's very exciting they have managed to get it off the ground.
"There is a lot of support for independent traders and anything that helps to support local business is a good thing."
Tory MP Charlotte Leslie (Bristol North West) said the new currency was a reflection of Bristol's creative and entrepreneurial spirit.
She said: "I don't think our politicians have served the city as well as they could have done and this is a great indication of how Bristol people can lead their own way and create their own economy and be a national leader, if not in fact, a world leader."
One of the sponsors for the launch was a Bristol-based firm called Beyond Dispute, a health and safety consultancy and adjudicates on television game shows.
The firm is run by Olivia Van der Werff who said: "Bristol is a terrific city and anything that keeps money circulating in Bristol has got to be a good thing."
Shoppers and traders are being urged to open an account with the Bristol Credit Union which can be done online.
For people with an account, you can pay by using your mobile phone or internet as well as the new money.
If you pay for an item in sterling, then you can ask for any notes in your change to be given in Bristol Pounds. The rest would be in normal coins.
The new notes are printed on watermarked paper by specialist printers and incorporate a number of security features.
The new currency can be exchanged for sterling, but there is a three per cent conversion fee.
Traders pay a two per cent charge on each transaction with a minimum of 10p and for online payments, one per cent and a maximum of 95p.
These fees are to cover the overheads for running the scheme.
For further details, visit the website, www.bristolpound.org.
Making headlines across the world
Die Welt, Germany
English Bristol introduces its own currency
While Europe desperately discussed about the receipt of the euro, it leads to the island just a new means of payment: the Bristol-pounds.
The inhabitants of the southern English town are thrilled.
As Britain loses faith in its banks and feels shockwaves from the eurozone debt crisis, one city is trying to keep local wealth in local pockets with the launch of its own currency.
Voice of Russia
The city authorities in Bristol, England, are launching their own banknotes to boost local business and which traders in the city will be able to use to pay their business taxes.
The Bristol pound, which is supported by the Liberal Democrat-led city council, will be accepted tender in the city by businesses that sign up to the project. 250 companies have already done so.
Expatica.com (for ex pats in Spain)
The Bristol pound -- usable only with member businesses in the city in southwest England -- is to launch in September, and organisers are deluged with local firms wanting to sign up.