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Technology & Innovation

Mobile Technology Creates Alternative Financial Systems

Social and mobile networking tools are helping to build financially-independent communities by facilitating informal trading markets. The services are a response to international banking crises. 

What’s the Latest Development?

The population of Volos, Greece, who are suffering beneath the weight their country’s financial crisis, have come together to use mobile technology as an alternative to the international banking system that has failed them so spectacularly. In Volos, markets have arisen where people meet to exchange their goods and services, with barter credits tracked by open-source community banking software called Cyclos. The software allows the entire community to enter into non-monetary systems where services can be traded throughout the entire community, not just on a one-to-one basis. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Other social and mobile-driven projects are springing up, giving individuals more control of their financial destiny and a greater sense of security. In 2005, Ken Banks launched a community texting service called FrontlineSMS, allowing communities to meet their needs through text messages. “Today it is used for everything from election monitoring, dispensing legal advice to powering local radio talk shows.” Banks says that, in many cases, people are suffering through no fault of their own. “They want more control over their lives, and we want to create self-help tools for those who want to rebuild something that was lost a long time ago in their communities.”  

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