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SoNantes is a barter system, designed for small businesses in the French city of Nantes , which use it to provide each other with mutual credit in a parallel currency called SoNantes. The scheme which has been in preparation since 2008 is the brainchild of the current French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. The SoNantes is currently in the alpha-testing stage and is set to launch to the public in Spring 2014.


The purpose of the new currency is to provide credit for small companies in the Nantes area, to maximise the use of local products, and to provide some protection from international financial excesses and downturns. The initial phase will see approximately 400 businesses as members, but the idea is to extend beyond that quite rapidly to all 24 municipalities of the local conurbation.


Small businesses are the target users, in and around the city of Nantes itself. The big companies in the area are not being invited to join. A key part of the target market is social enterprises and green businesses, known together in France as the economie solidaire (solidarity economy). The president of the Credit Municipal is also president of the specialist chamber of commerce for the solidarity economy.


SoNantes is a payment system between members that does not rely on coins or banknotes but is entirely digital. The use of this deposit money is regulated by a mutual credit system aimed at recording each user’s credits and debits, within limits set on a case-per-case basis. Citizens can also get a SoNantes account and are able to purchase goods and services from any company that has joined the scheme (traders, craftsmen, etc.).


The local currency is promoted by the city of Nantes and the intercommunal structure of Nantes Métropole, and is being implemented by the Crédit Municipal. In many ways, SoNantes has the opposite barriers to most other currency projects. Most of them are in need of high-level political backing, but have widespread local backing. For SoNantes, it is the other way around. The high profile mayor has made the project his own, and he is now prime minister. All the chambers of commerce are partners in the project and a long-established bank is supporting the project and investing in it. The plan is for the project to be self-funding within three years.


The Dutch consultancy Qoin is providing the software system to keep track of payments, based on Cyclos, the original complementary currency system developed by the Dutch consultancy STRO and which is used widely in Latin America. This is called community currency 2.0.


SoNantes will be established as a payment system under the European e-money directive.




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Type of initiative Other (specify): Cummunity Currency
Field of work Trade, Financial services
Date of commencement 2013
Founder(s) Jean - Marc Ayrault
Legal form
Continent Europe
Country France
City Nantes
One or several keywords that describe your initiative Barter system, community currency, local economy, complementary currency
Publications newsletter, videoís
More information

Contact person(s)


Contact information

Name SoNantes Credit Municipal de Nantes
Address 2 , rue Marcel Paul
Zip/postal code 44000
Place Nantes
State/province Loire
Country France
Phone +33 ( 0 ) 2 40 41 64 36



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