The Social Wallet: free software to tackle the corona-crisis

As this website and other connected projects document, we have been developing public interest technology that in these critical times can be deployed to promote new practices for the social and common good.

The current corona-crisis pushes us to reflect on our relationship with money, privacy, surveillance and freedom of economic interaction much more urgently than ever before.

Socialwallet Graffiti

The consequences of the pandemic started at the end of 2019 in China. Yet, the health emergency and swift economic downturn that it catalysed at the beginning of 2020 in many parts of the world have dire and long-lasting economic ramifications for many in society.

To counteract this social and economic crisis, we share the Social Wallet, a free software framework to issue emergency basic income and commercial credit circuits by local authorities such as city councilsproductive businesses and citizens groups.

The aim is to provide people sufficient liquidity to weather the incresingly intense economic and monetary storm without creating new debt as per current insitutional interventions.

This flexible toolkit enables the issue of regulatory compliant, social purpose complementary currencies and commercial credit circuits that provision debt-free disposable income for basic goods and services,  supporting business continuity of the productive economy in the areas most hit by the corona-crisis.

Let’s be crystal clear, the corona-crisis is only accelerating the collapse of an already brittle monetary system. As expected, the economy cannot print its way out of debt by issuing more debt and the current crisis is sending shockwaves at the health, social and economic levels such that the status quo cannot simply go on with business as usual.

Desperately trying to prop up the neoliberal economy, central banks around the world are frantically printing money as never before, begetting hyperinflation, with the Federal Reserve leading the central banking pack as issuers of the world reserve currency, the US dollar.

These institutions are leading the world in uncharted territory with initiatives like lowering reserve requirements to zero, infinite Quantitative Easing, and helicopter money to fund stimulus packages, i.e. increase national debts of countries around the world to even more unsustainable levels to bail out entire industries. Waiting in drawers for a long time, there are thousand-page long proposals for a digital dollar surfacing to reshape the collapsing global financial and monetary system as the quadrillion dollars derivative bubble pops.

Predictably, massive job losses, rising unemployment and business bankruptcies are already contributing to less expenditure and investment.

This social time-bomb will most probably result in widespread social unrest while increasing the risk to favour criminal organizations, because many don’t have any way to have an income.

In fact, as we write this post, the world economy is grinding to a halt and, if dealt with in the same way as the 2008 global financial crisis, the post corona-crisis world could see a significant increase of economic inequality in many countries.

Entire industries, especially in the services sector and related supply chains, oil, airlines, automotive and consumer products, are experiencing a severe crisis that central banks and governments are trying to address by issuing more debt to stimulate the economy.

This crisis is unprecedented and the economic, monetary and social consequences of the pandemic – the coming major recession and even a depression – will be experienced virtually all over the world with for a long time.

This is why we write this post. Because it is a perfect moment to remind the communities and partners with aligned values and a shared ethos that what we wrote about in the past years is even more relevant today.

We, thus, gather here the solutions that our approach to monetary innovation can bring to society thanks to crisis management methodologies and free and open source software we researched and developed in the past 10 years.

These tools can help curb the economic disruption through the implementation of forms of welfare provision tailored and adaptable to tackle the challenges at hand, both for citizens and small businesses. For they urgently need emergency lines of access to liquidity in complementary forms of disposable income and commercial credit to provide basic goods and services. The outcome is an increase in the local multiplier effect at extremely low cost, without creating new debt.

A description of the process, whereby a municipality, business consortium or citizen group willing to create liquidity for a community can issue and exchange digital complementary currency is available  describing the tutorial for Commoncoin, on the commonfare platform.

A bottom up effort in monetary research and technological development, through the experimentation of complementary currencies, the study of cryptocurrencies, Blockchain technology for the social good and Common-based approaches to money and value have demonstrated that both science, technology and people can provide solutions for society where old power structures continue to fail in taking care of the public interest.

The converging element of this research and software development is Freecoin, now renamed as Social Wallet,

a toolkit that can be deployed to face and overcome the challenges that a low performing monetary system is systemically bringing forward, now accelerated – and increasingly exacerbated – by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inspired by the art of UNIX programming, we share the Social Wallet, a software framework comprising the following modules that can be freely customised ad hoc by local authorities and businesses.  It allows them to issue complementary means of payment to circulate in parallel with the national currencies in order to address the current economic challenges.

The modules are:

– Database: centralised or Blockchain.
User authentication and authorisation: user registration; password recovery; 2 Factor Authentication.
Social Wallet API: safely issue currencies; webapp database query; create, tag, filter transactions – expand the API as needs arise.
Webapp: send and receive tokens.

More details at https://socialwallet.dyne.org together with installation instructions using Docker.

This is our way to tackle what is by far the most challenging monetary and economic crisis in the past 70 years. On the other side of this crisis, as always, there is an even more compelling opportunity and Dyndy is prepared to support those who want to grab it and realise a new monetary landscape, whereby money is a servant not a master of its users.

Money is an agreement to use something as a means of payment. Nowadays we are forced to find new agreements to avoid further deterioration of the social fabric.

In the midst of the current crisis, we call on communities to start with us at the local level.  We believe that municipalities and local supply chains leveraging these tools can have a more immediate, positive impact on those that are hit hardest by the economic consequences of the corona-crisis.

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