Excerpted from Jamie Brown-Hansen:
“Community credit, however, is currently a global landscape of local credit facilities. This is not yet a global credit facility. It is easy to offer community credit within a local network of trust. It is much harder to offer community credit for something you’d like to order from China. So the interconnection of these facilities is the next piece in the puzzle that can make this a viable alternative to bank credit as a global medium of exchange, and that’s what we’re focused on today.
Like the natural world itself, the community credit landscape is diverse and dynamic and will never be fixed in a single pattern. That said, it is possible to recognize three distinct cultures that have emerged among these systems so far. They areLETS (Local Exchange Trading Systems), Business-to-Business (B2B) trading systems, and TimeBanks. Each of these groups organizes somewhat differently and uses different systems, but they’re all premised on the same basic principle of mutual credit exchange. A community credit facility results any time a group of people or organizations comes together and agrees to directly issue credit to each other for their own goods and services. (Some groups have a different way of describing this, but the result is the same.) This is usually called mutual credit, and it’s the most democratic form of credit creation: we issue credit ourselves backed by our own promises to redeem it in the future. Organize these promises together, and you’ve got a bottom-up credit facility.
There are now thousands of these worldwide, but they are not yet interoperable with each other. The next great design challenge facing the system engineers in this space is to develop import/export software extensions and protocols that would be compatible with each of the major systems currently used by the three trading groups. Their goal is to leave the design elements of the local systems intact, meaning the extensions wouldn’t compromise the sovereignty of communities over their local design choices. What they would do is allow the systems to communicate with each other using another connecting system, most likely Ripple. The result will be to achieve a larger “credit commons” through the interconnection of local credit facilities as long envisioned by mutual credit advocate Tom Greco. The developers estimate that this could be technologically feasible within the next two years.”