Peer-to-peer trade systems rediscovered?

The Circular Multilateral Barter (CMB) project was started in 2009 by Evgeni Pandurski and Catherine Woodgold. The goal was to write server-side software for creating and trading self-issued currencies in peer-to-peer networks. In a recent email exchange, Evgeni tried to explain more about his project:

Imagine you are a passionate community organizer. Luckily, your wonderful local community is growing bigger and stronger every day. So, you are starting to think about setting up a local exchange trading system (LETS) in your area. You are afraid, though, that this may turn out to be a full time unpaid job for you. Also, you know that bringing together people of different wealth and motivation into a common credit pool may not work well. Yet you want your system to be inclusive and even allow non-local traders to participate.

Well, CMB might turn out to be what you need:

CMB is aimed at supplying entrepreneurs with a way to exchange goods and services within a p2p-network, without using money, overcoming the “double coincidence of wants” problem, inherent to traditional barter.

Most importantly, CMB allows traders to issue their own currencies (called “products”), which others can redeem, trade, or make payments with.

One thing that distinguishes CMB from other “credit commons” is that all debts in CMB are user-to-user debts. There is no central administrative authority to decide who deserves to be trusted and who does not. Because of this, CMB can scale-up very well, so that local communities can be seamlessly aggregated into larger ones.

Another way of seeing CMB is as a partnership of independent Local Exchange Trading Systems, having a common marketplace for exchanging one LETS-currency for another (via circular trade).

The first public release of CMB was in late 2010. Since then new features have been added on regular bases. At present, the software is considered *very stable and secure*, ready for real-life workloads.

Here are some of CMB’s features:

  • Allows users to issue their own currencies (called “products”).
  • Users can make direct payments to each other.
  • Users are invulnerable to sudden changes in the value of money. CMB uses money solely as a standard of value for a short period of time (typically a day).
  • Very convenient to use on smartphones.
  • Works even on very old phones (WAP 2.0).
  • Includes detailed installation guide.
  • Includes detailed localization guide.

The CMB source code is available for download here.

You can see CMB working here.

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