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12 Reasons To Use The Brixton Pound

The Brixton Pound was the UK's first local currency in an urban area. A what? Yeah that's right: Brixton's own money, or as we prefer to say, money Brixton style. Approaching its 5th birthday, the Brixton Pound has learnt how to walk and is now starting to run. Here's why you should start using it:

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#1 It sticks to Brixton

Think of the Brixton as a leaky bucket. Money pours in, but there are large, corporate chain-shaped holes through which this money immediately leaks out. A local currency reinforces shopping at independent businesses, which are more likely to source local supplies, use nearby services, and employ local people. Money that sticks to Brixton, and makes it a better place to live and shop.

#2 Loyalty for locals

Kaff Bar

Brixton's growing popularity as a destination means that many local businesses now serve a customer base that is increasingly from other parts of London. But you know what they all really love? Local customers. Why? Because locals are more likely to return again and again. Using the Brixton Pound is a way for someone to identify themselves as a local, and in return many businesses offer a discount or special offer for people using the currency. Check the website as this list is growing by the day!

#3 Get to know your local independents

You can't bank a Brixton Pound, you can't spend it at Sainsbury's, and you can't spend it in Islington. There's only one thing you can do: spend it in Brixton's independent businesses. Accepted by over 250 businesses, there's not much that you can't buy in Brixton Pounds. Shopping locally doesn't have to be an expensive luxury either - many of the grocers and shops that accept the Brixton Pound offer cheaper products and services than chains, as well as a more human and personable shopping experience.

#4 They look so cool

Even the most staunch royalist has to admit that Lizzie II loses out in the cool stakes to the likes of David Bowie (B£10), and Luol Deng (B£5). The decision over who to place on the notes was voted on by Brixton residents, which were then designed by local artists. They look great in cash registers, and on your wall at home too - buy our collector packs here.

#5 You can pay-by-text

Pay-by-text was first piloted in the UK by the Brixton Pound in 2011, but has actually been used as a method of payment in Africa for even longer. Running on sms, it's not just for smartphone users. It is secure and sure beats queuing up when you already know how much you have to pay. Sounds good doesn't it? You can sign up here.

#6 Brixton benefits every time you spend it

Like most electronic payments, the business pays a small fee every time you pay using our e-currency (see #7 below). However, unlike credit and debit card providers, we take that transaction fee and put it in the Brixton Fund. This is a micro-grant scheme that is available to Brixtonites seeking to tackle economic justice, increase employment or training opportunities, or develop local sustainability projects. This fund will become active in 2015 - so start building it up now!

#7 You're doing businesses a favour

Photo credit: Jonathan Goldberg

Did you know that every time you pay by a credit or debit card, the business has to pay a transaction fee? That's not to mention additional costs such as renting the card machine and receiving a monthly statement. The Brixton Pound charges a flat rate of 1.5% per transaction, and the technology is free - provided that you have an sms-enabled mobile phone. For small businesses this means they can access modern payment methods without the costs associated. And if you trade on the move, such as from a market stall, it's ideal!

#8 Happiness that money can buy

Our friends at the Bristol Pound have a good way to describe their Pound: happy money. It sounds simple, but it backs up everything that we've discovered too. Using the Brixton Pound is an empowering experience, it makes you feel connected to the area where you probably spend the majority of your time and money, and it makes a financial transaction a social one too. "I always have a chat with people who come in and spend the Brixton Pound", says one trader.

#9 Save money with Brixton Pounds

One of our most regular users, Sybille, told us about her Brixton Pound usage and how it helped her save money:

"A few months back I was on an extremely tight budget. The Brixton Pound helped me manage my weekly spendings on staple food at Brixton Whole Foods and fruit and veg at Nour Cash & Carry. I like to believe that the prepaid budget I set aside and transferred to my Brixton Pound account prevented me from going broke. Even better it helped me stay away from going to any supermarkets where I always end up buying stuff I simply don't need."

#10 Your sterling gets put to good use too

When you exchange your sterling for Brixton Pounds, it goes into the London Mutual Credit Union on Acre Lane. Credit unions, unlike banks, are more likely to lend to small businesses, do not invest in unethical ventures such as arms or oil, and also provide vulnerable individuals with an affordable alternative to payday lenders. So not only do your Brixton Pounds benefit the area, but your sterling does too.

#11 Express yourself

You use Facebook to share photos of your life, you tweet updates to tell people what you are up to at any given moment. Why not use money to express who you are? When you use the national currency, you're not really given much of a chance to reveal who you are. The Brixton Pound is all about giving you the opportunity to express yourself. Spend the Brixton Pound and you're saying you're green, you're independent, you're a Brixtonite, you're ethical, you're cool - it's your currency, so use it to match your values.

#12 The new money is where it's at

When you think about it, money is a bit rubbish isn't it? An excellent servant, but a terrible master, as the saying goes. The Brixton Pound is a positive challenge to this, offering a potential solution while at the same time providing businesses and users with an innovative and fun payment system. We think that we're entering a world where 'money' will no longer have a singular meaning - in 10 years we'll probably have a number of ways that we exchange goods and services. Is the Brixton Pound the future of money? Yes, and it's here. So start using it and party like it's 2025.