People often ask me how the credit clearing process that I advocate might be established and where existing successful models are to be found. I point them to the commercial “barter” sector, the 75 year old WIR Bank in Switzerland, and a few exchange alternatives that have been emerging spontaneously from the grassroots. Of course, what these trade exchanges offer is not “barter” at all, but credit clearing.
Significant as it is, the commercial trade exchange business is not well known because it does not yet involve consumers or employees to any great extent. It services businesses, mostly small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), and mostly at the retail level or in the service sector. Credit clearing and private currencies are important elements in the economy at any time, but they become even more necessary during times of financial disruption such as the current one.
On June 25 Sky News in the UK did a live interview with one of the leaders in the trade exchange industry, Wayne Sharpe, the charismatic founder and chief executive of Bartercard, International. Sharpe discussed the role that his company, and others like it, plays in revitalising the UK economy by helping businesses to “reserve cash, reduces costs and increase sales and profitability through a sophisticated system of barter.” Here is a transcript of that interview taken from the Bartercard website. (Thanks to Bob Meyer of Barter News for alerting me to this report). – t.h.g
Why cash isn’t king – The flexible friend that can help businesses beat recession:
Bartercard works like a credit card, but transacting by clients’ own goods and services via its own unique Trade Pound ‘currency’. On joining, account holders receive a transaction card and an interest-free line of credit. When spare capacity is sold, members’ accounts are credited with trade pounds. When purchases are made, trade pounds are deducted. Bartercard allows members to trade without the need to spend valuable cash or engage in a direct swap.
Given recent global economic developments, Bartercard is proving totally relevant. It’s phenomenal growth in the UK market over recent months is testament to this. One reason for the rapid growth is that Bartercard charges success-based fees; charging a small commission on each trade so, if it doesn’t produce results, costs to its members are negligible.
Another reason for Bartercard’s success is the support it provides the beleaguered SME sector. SMEs are the lifeblood of the British economy; accounting for over 60% of domestic GDP yet, in the main, they have been overlooked by government.
Lavish financial support from government has been reserved for selected big businesses and in particular, the banking sector. Instead of using the money to stimulate the economy, the banks have devoted these huge resources to bolstering balance sheets and improving share price. The banks are failing to lend even to those SMEs with solid foundations and a great track record but which need financial support in extremely difficult trading conditions.
Bartercard is providing a real solution. More than 80% of its members are SME’s and Bartercard aims to generate 10% in additional sales for each and every member business, then use that trade to offset regular cash expense, thus improving cash profit by up to 20%.
With over 21 million transactions and more that $15 Billion in trade volume worldwide since inception Bartercard is a proven method to increase SME;s trade.
“I have lived in the UK for over 7 years now and I know and feel for the SME’s – they are the heart of this nation and we will help them beat the recession in any and every way we can” says the eternally upbeat Mr. Sharpe.
It seems the Sky is the limit.