Since the economic crises, many new forms of money are developing and emerging. In 2010 the Sardex was set up and it is now so successful that it is spreading to the rest of Italy and soon maybe even abroad.
Sardex is a regional business-to-business (B2B) "commercial credit circuit", or "credit club"; a members-only network that allows local Sardinian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to do business on an online platform by extending each other euro-denominated credit rather than paying in cash.
Sardex' mission is to help revive the economy of Sardinia and was set up by a social innovation start-up as a response to the economic recession with the hope that it would have a positive impact on the island's economy and through it create employment opportunities in one of the poorest regions of Italy with a youth unemployment rate of 50%.
Each member firm begins at zero Sardex, earning the digital currency by offering goods or services to others in the network without the use of a bank. The platform helps member businesses find opportunities to trade with each other. Most entrepreneurs had about € 20,000 to € 30,000 extra turnover in 2016 because of Sardex.
It is noticeable that as soon as members begin to participate in the process of earning and spending trade credits, they begin to increase their workers' salaries and invest in their education. Some employees are partly paid in euros and partly in Sardex. In 2015 the turnover was € 51 million and since its first paying member in 2010 the total turnover is about € 84 million.
Members have a sticker on the door indicating that Sardex are accepted; among these members are also restaurants and supermarkets. There are currently 3,200 member businesses.
A little over a year ago, Sardex began to replicate its business in seven other regions of Italy, including Lombardy and Sicily.
Read more about Sardex in our database.
Sources: DW Made for Minds, STRO, Summer Foundation