Consumers in the Berkshires region of western Massachusetts in the US will soon be able to make in-store and online purchases and carry out person-to-person transactions using a digital version of the BerkShares local currency.
Users of the digital BerkShare will be able to download a mobile app, link it to their bank account and then transfer funds to set up and load a digital wallet with the currency which they can use to make purchases at the 400 businesses currently supporting BerkShares in paper form.
“With the app, they can use their phones or tablets to make purchases in BerkShares at participating businesses, similar to how they would use a commercial mobile payment system,” says BerkShares Inc, the non-profit organisation that issues and manages the currency.
“The merchant subtracts that amount from the buyer’s BerkShares account and transfers it into their own.
“To conduct sales, merchants can place a static QR code next to their cash register, which the customer scans and then enters the price and shows the cashier to confirm.
“As an alternative, a merchant can generate a unique QR code on their own device, which will automatically pull the amount from the customer’s BerkShares account.
“BerkShares can also be used to transfer money from one person to another or to an organisation.
“Initially, such transfers will have to be made with both parties at the same location, but an option to do that from different locations is being planned.”
“Behind the scenes, digital BerkShares will utilise blockchain technology to facilitate the ongoing transactions,” BerkShares Inc adds.
“The ongoing transactions will occur separately from the involvement of the two local banks where the holding accounts are based.”
The BerkShare was launched in paper form in 2006 to support the recirculation of cash and reinvestment within the local community by facilitating local transactions without “sending money outside of the Berkshires to remote corporate headquarters and financial institutions”.
It is being rolled out in digital form to “improve on the ability of the currency to support the Berkshire economy”.
The digital version is due to roll out “following the holidays in early 2022”. The first 6,000 businesses and residents to download the app and set up a digital wallet will receive 10 digital BerkShares as a reward.