Currency names puzzle

or whatever you want to call it! #interdependence

Lucas Huber

Naming of many “alternative”, aka non FIAT type, currencies could be a misleading adventures, because it seems that every year new names, but also new types of currencies are popping up. In the olden days of the alternative currency movement it was relatively simple, because one expression did cover more or less all of the different types of currency alternatives. The term Complementary Currencies (CC) was introduced by Bernard Lietaer in the late nineties and was more or less accepted and used by the majority of the activists in the scene until the rise of the Crypto Currencies, aka Bitcoin (launched 2009). 

In comparison to the fast and viral grow of the Bitcoin community the term Complementary Currency became a bit old fashioned and without a trace of disruptive potential. So since around 2010 new names came up, to replace the complementary aspect by other relations to the mainstream economy. But only one of them had enough power to get accepted by a broader community. 

As a common denominator Alternative Currency or Private Currency where often used when it comes to distinguish between FIAT money and any other type of currency. But this terms also includes the majority of the Crypto Currencies and from design perspective a mutual credit system and Bitcoin are completely different. So new names coming up and one of them seemed to gain much attraction. The term Community Currency was and is often used to replace the Complementary in case of local currencies or Timebanks. But it still lacks a name that covers all different types of “mutual” credit currencies, inclusive the business related ones as Barter Networks or the Swiss WIR. 

So new names come all with a little bit of a bias in one or more directions. Here a, of course incomplete, list of some of this newer and older currency and related terms:


Imitated by



Intentional Currencies

Graham Barns

Only academically

Targeted Currencies



Local Currencies


Widely accepted

Regional Currencies

Convertible Currencies (CLC)

Margrit Kennedy 
Christian Gelleri
Kristofer Dittmer

Accepted in Germany

From a Blog

Real Currencies 
Real Economy


Only a blog 
Local Initiative

Credit commons

Thomas Greco 
Matthew Slater

Not yet clear

People Money

John Rogers

unknown / Booktitle

Cooperative Currencies

Jens Martignoni
Jem Bendell


Mutual Credit "Currencies" 

Widely accepted but not Currency

Free Banking


More historical term 

Mutual Banking

?Never widely used 

Cooperative Banking

?For legal tender currency 

Emissions Reduction Currency System

various people


Independent Currencies

Guild of the inde.

Not yet known 

It’s confusing, isn’t it? But indeed none of the mentioned terms did really satisfy me. Many of them are to specific towards a particular design or use case. Others have a bias or pointing to something that can be interpreted in various ways. Beside of Alternative Currencies, what is somehow acceptable, but not really related to mutual credit systems or any positive intention behind a certain type of an AC, only Intentional and Independent Currencies are left on my small list of potential candidate. But you could argue that intentional is somehow any currency – for the good or for the bad? - and independent is leading to the question “independent from what?”. But independent did somehow hook somewhere in my brain and I did remember from some lecture in sociology the term Interdependence.

“Interdependence is the mutual reliance between two or more groups. In relationships, interdependence is the degree to which members of the group are mutually dependent on the others. This concept differs from a dependent relationship, where some members are dependent and some are not.” (Wikipedia)  

Interdependence has a long time history of, not only famous, but also respected people, that did use this term. It is widely accepted in Economics and Social Sciences and has a meaning that fits quite well to the overall purpose of a future moneygrid network. Because Currencies that are connected to the moneygrid clearing network are highly interdependent to each other. They are of course also in concurrence, but through the fine grained policies the relationships in form of credit limits and exchange rates, are hopefully driving the system to support the good of all and not for the few. 

So let’s see how the acceptance will grow or not of the new term:

                                      Interdependend Currencies (IDC)


Additional Links Table:

Wikipedia Links

Twitter Hashtag

List of Alternative Currencies

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