Belfast to introduce digital currency

Belfast is to launch an app-based city currency later this year, aimed at rewarding positive actions by residents.

Dubbed ‘Belfast Coin’, the incentive-based digital currency has a target of stimulating local economic growth and helping to achieve environmental goals.

Belfast City Council has worked alongside the Tel Aviv and UK-based company, Colu, to bring the initiative to life. Supported by Belfast’s membership of 100 Resilient Cities, a global network funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the scheme is part of a wider global city currency challenge where digital currency best practice will be shared globally.

Grainia Long, Belfast commissioner for resilience, said: “This challenge gives us the opportunity to explore how a city currency can bring residents, businesses and city partners together to support inclusive growth – a key priority within our Belfast Agenda.

“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.”

Other cities involved in the initiative are Porto Alegre, Milan, Addis Ababa, Cape Town and Tel Aviv-Yafo, all of which have been looking at how digital currency might tackle long-term challenges by bringing together stakeholders from across the city to work towards shared goals.  

Representatives from these cities met at a workshop in Tel Aviv in April, which examined how a city-wide digital currency can help those involved become more resilient.

Belfast City Council said work is now under way to sign up a range of partners and build an ecosystem of stakeholders before the currency is formally launched later in 2019.

Once unveiled, residents will be able to accumulate Belfast Coin in return for a range of activities – including shopping local, recycling, volunteering and taking part in civic activities. Users can set up their own Belfast Coin account by downloading a dedicated mobile app.

Long added: “By motivating residents to make a positive difference, we hope Belfast Coin will strengthen their connection to the city they live in.

“Our aim is to engage a range of stakeholders from across the city to allow the currency to be used as payment in shops, cafes, restaurants and other businesses.”

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