The best documented modern example to show the effectiveness of implementing a dual-currency system by means of the adoption of a complementary currency to use in mixed payments in parallel with the national one comes form Switzerland. Back in 1934, a group of Swiss entrepreneurs agreed to use a means of payment issued by a Basel-based Economic Circle in parallel to the Swiss Franc in order to lubricate the wheels of local commerce and, eventually, re-emerge from the ashes of the Great Depression. Indeed, WIR stemmed form the need of counteracting economically disruptive tendencies of the business-cycle exclusively based on conventional money. Inspired by the worldview of Freigeld, members of the Circle thus designed a currency for trading among themselves and they named it ‘WIR’, a term that in German means ‘us’.

As a matter of fact, WIR originated form the need of counteracting economically disruptive tendencies of the business-cycle exclusively based on conventional money, viz. the Swiss Franc. Today, the WIR system is still in operation and it is framed in a network of WIR Banks, which offer services both in Swiss Francs and WIR (e. g. a multi-currency loan). Such dual-currency system currently involves about 70,000 Swiss businesses, and has an annual volume of over US$2 billion.

According to Prof. Tobias Studer, WIR exists merely as a bookkeeping entity that entitles the holder to purchase certain goods and services.  In a similar way as Gesell’s stamp scrip did, WIR became a fully purposeful negotiable instrument to adopt in view of maintaining one’s trading volume in cases of contraction in the money supply. Nevertheless, WIR positive effects are present also during growing stages in the volume of Swiss Francs circulating in the real economy. Thereby, Studer underlines that since it is a cash-augmenting payment medium, WIR is an effective instrument for boosting sales, because it is a cash-free economic circulatory system that supplements other business activities without influencing the overall performance of the Swiss Franc.


WIR Bank

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