Time-based currency
In economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, a time-based currency is an alternative currency
Alternative currency
Alternative currency is a term that refers to any currency used as an alternative to the dominant national or multinational currency systems...

 where the unit of exchange is the man-hour.

Some time-based currencies value everyone’s contributions equally. One hour equals one service credit. In these systems, one person volunteers to work for an hour for another person; thus, they are credited with one hour, which they can redeem for an hour of service from another volunteer. Critics charge this would lead to fewer doctors or dentists. Other systems, such as Ithaca Hours
Ithaca Hours
The Ithaca HOUR is a local currency used in Ithaca, New York and is the oldest and largest local currency system in the United States that is still operating. It has inspired other similar systems in Madison, Wisconsin; Corvallis, Oregon; and a proposed system in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania...

, let doctors and dentists charge more hours per hour.

Time Dollars

Time Dollars are created via mutual credit
Mutual credit
Mutual credit is a type of alternative currency in which the currency used in a transaction can be created at the time of the transaction. LETS are mutual credit systems.Typically this involves keeping track of each individual's credit or debit balance...

: Each transaction is recorded as a corresponding credit
Credit (finance)
Credit is the trust which allows one party to provide resources to another party where that second party does not reimburse the first party immediately , but instead arranges either to repay or return those resources at a later date. The resources provided may be financial Credit is the trust...

 and debit
Debit and credit are the two aspects of every financial transaction. Their use and implication is the fundamental concept in the double-entry bookkeeping system, in which every debit transaction must have a corresponding credit transaction and vice versa.Debits and credits are a system of notation...

 in the accounts of the participants. In a Time Dollars system, or Time Bank, each participant's time is valued equally, whether he/she is a novice or an extensively trained expert. Time Dollars thus recognize and encourage reciprocal community service, resist inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 without encouraging hoarding, and are in sufficient supply, which enables trade and cooperation among participants. It has been implemented in a wide variety of settings – rural Appalachia, urban St. Louis, in Youth Court, and in retirement communities, to name a few.

Time banks

Edgar Cahn came up with Time Dollars as "a new currency to provide a solution to massive cuts in government spending on social welfare. If there was not going to be enough of the old money to fix all the problems facing our country and our society", Edgar argued, "Why not make a new kind of money to pay people for what needs to be done? Time Dollars value everyone’s contributions equally. One hour equals one service credit." Cahn wrote two books, Our Brother’s Keeper and No More Throw-Away People.

The largest and most active Time Bank in the United States is the Dane County TimeBank in Madison, Wisconsin with over 1,000 members, a Youth Court and connections to Community Supported Agriculture. The Dane County TimeBank co-hosted "TimeBanking in Action," the TimeBanking International Conference in 2007, and will be co-hosting the TimeBanking Conference, "Time For Justice, A Wealth of Opportunity" in June 2009. TimeBanks USA is the hub of a nationwide network of TimeBanks offering training and support to timebanks around the country. It developed Community Weaver software now widely used with over 11,000 participants. In the US there are now 101 TimeBanks listed on http://community.timebanks.org/findtimebanks.php. TimeBanking has spread to over 37 nations and six continents. In England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, TimeBanking has spread rapidly. In Wales there has been a particular focus on the development of 'Agency Timebanks' to engage local people as contributors to public service and community Agency Timebanking in Wales There are 116 in operation and another 87 under development; the government and national volunteer organizations have been particularly supportive. They are promoted as a tool in community regeneration.


Some criticisms of Time Banking have focused on the Time Dollar's inadequacies as a form of currency and as a market information mechanism. Frank Fisher of MIT predicted in the 80s that such a currency "would lead to the kind of distortion of market forces which had crippled Russia's economy
Planned economy
A planned economy is an economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a government agency...

." To this day, Time Banks in the U.S. must avoid setting any monetary worth on their Time Dollars, lest it become taxable income to the IRS.

Dr. Gill Seyfang's study of the Gorbals Time Bank—one of the few studies of Time Banking done by the academic community—listed several other non-theoretical problems with Time Banking. The first is the difficulty of communicating to potential members exactly what makes Time Banking different, or "getting people to understand the difference between Time Banking and traditional volunteering." She also notes that there is no guarantee that every person's needs will be provided for by a Time Bank by dint of the fact that the supply of certain skills may be lacking in a community.

One of the most stringent criticisms of Time Banking is its organizational sustainability. While some member-run Time Banks with relatively low overhead costs do exist, others pay a staff to keep the organization running. This can be quite expensive for smaller organizations and without a long-term source of funding, they may fold.

In fiction

The 2011 film In Time
In Time (film)
In Time, previously titled Now and I'm.mortal, is a 2011 dystopian science fiction-thriller film starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Galecki, and Vincent Kartheiser...

, directed by Andrew Niccol
Andrew Niccol
Andrew M. Niccol is a New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and director. He wrote and directed Gattaca, S1m0ne, In Time, and Lord of War. He also wrote and co-produced The Truman Show, which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay in 1999 and won a BAFTA award for Best...

, made use of a fictional time-based currency, tied to the regulated, initially 25-year lifespans of the characters in the film.

See also

  • Anarchy
    Anarchy , has more than one colloquial definition. In the United States, the term "anarchy" typically is meant to refer to a society which lacks publicly recognized government or violently enforced political authority...

  • Cincinnati Time Store
    Cincinnati Time Store
    The Cincinnati Time Store was a successful retail store that was created by American individualist anarchist Josiah Warren to test his theories that were based on his strict interpretation of the labor theory of value. The experimental store operated from May 18, 1827 until May 1830...

  • Community currency
  • Coproduction of public services by service users and communities
    Coproduction of public services by service users and communities
    The Coproduction of public services is the production of public services through the equal and reciprocal contribution of service users, communities and professionals, making use of their pooled resources, expertise and willingness to improve service processes and outcomes...

  • Fiscal localism
    Fiscal localism
    Fiscal localism comprises institutions of localized monetary exchange. Sometimes considered a backlash against global capitalism, fiscal localism affords voluntary, market structures that help communities trade more efficiently within their communities and regions.-Fiscal localism:"Buy local" is...

  • Fourth Corner Exchange
    Fourth Corner Exchange
    Fourth Corner Exchange Inc is a sustainable community currency based in the Pacific Northwest USA. Founded in 2002 by Francis Ayley and a group of like minded friends, Fourth Corner Exchange started trading in January 2004, utilizing a basic Time Dollar system that has some features of LETS, but...

  • Ithaca Hours
    Ithaca Hours
    The Ithaca HOUR is a local currency used in Ithaca, New York and is the oldest and largest local currency system in the United States that is still operating. It has inspired other similar systems in Madison, Wisconsin; Corvallis, Oregon; and a proposed system in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania...

  • LETS
  • Labour-time voucher
  • List of economics topics
  • Mutualism
    Mutualism (economic theory)
    Mutualism is an anarchist school of thought that originates in the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who envisioned a society where each person might possess a means of production, either individually or collectively, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labor in the free market...

  • Ripple monetary system
    Ripple monetary system
    Ripple is an open-source software project for developing and implementing a protocol for an open decentralized payment network. In its developed form , the Ripple network would be a peer-to-peer distributed social network service with a monetary honour system based on trust that already exists...

  • Time Banking
    Time Banking
    Time banking is a pattern of reciprocal service exchange that uses units of time as currency. It is an example of an alternative monetary system. A time bank, also known as a service exchange, is a community that practices time banking...

  • Ven (currency)
    Ven (currency)
    Ven is a global virtual currency used by members of a social network service Hub Culture to buy, share and trade knowledge, goods and services globally. It can be spent at any Hub Culture Pavilion or used for micropayments on the Internet at large. The value of Ven is determined on the financial...

External links

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