Why do Circles tokens (CRC) have value?

Think of money as a language. We agree on its meaning and that shared agreement is why money has the ability to claim things of value. It may not seem like it, but it works the same way with euros or dollars. The physical representations of money (banknotes, coins, or even virtual digits) we use to exchange goods and services are worthless by themselves.

What is important are the “promises” that back up the money, the promise that you will get value for your money. The value that banks and monetary politics assign to them. For example, a piece of paper is now worth 20 euros.

Circles’ value or values are based on what services and goods people offer to the community: what they give and what they take from their circles of trust. If your company accepts CRC for every 10th customer, or you sell your bike for CRC, or translate for someone in the jobcenter and they pay you with CRC, this value comes into the system, stays in the community, and circulates.

Instead of waiting for the state, you spend your CRC and give basic income to your community.

Can I get rich with Circles, like the early investors of Bitcoin?

Not really. Bitcoin is designed to function like gold or a digital collectible: it’s based on scarcity. There is a limited amount of bitcoins that will ever be created. So bitcoin is only good for storing wealth in real money. This makes people hoard and doesn’t encourage them to spend it on their communities.

Bitcoin doesn’t challenge the current economic system (that’s riddled with fiscal crises) as we do. Instead, Circles has another approach that’s based on abundance and is designed for circulation and spending. Just like a healthy body needs blood circulation, the economy needs healthy spending too. If a body part accumulates too much, that might lead to dangerous blood clots. Similarly, if a small group of people hoards too much, that might lead to crises, creating even more inequalities.

 

Therefore, the creation of Circles tokens (CRC) is limitless. The total amount of CRC issued depends on the number of people who join the network. Circles gives power back to the people: the power to issue credit in order to claim resources. Circles is a mechanism for monetary creation, not a get-rich-quick scheme.

What does Circles have in common with feminism?

Circles can empower smaller communities and balance out inequalities - including work that’s been historically assigned to women. The dominant economic system devalues care and other gendered work. Circles provides a unique opportunity to acknowledge and value this kind of work, like doing housework, raising children and the resulting invisible mental load women have to carry because of these. All this work is integral to communities but often goes unpaid. Circles can give these a new level of visibility and acknowledgment. When people pay with Circles tokens (CRC) at book shops, cafes, and marketplaces, the payments made for their care work become just as legitimate.

What does Circles have in common with permaculture?

The current money system is like industrial, intensive agriculture. The whole landscape is producing the same crop - it’s efficient in a certain sense (or for certain people): you can harvest all the crop, and you only need one type of machine and only one distributor. But you will also need a lot of pesticides and in ecological terms, this land will be almost dead. If a new type of pest attacks your crop and it’s resistant to your pesticides, you’re likely to lose all your production. This is basically how our current debt-based, state-ruled money system works.

Circles is a currency pluriverse: the smart contracts issue personal tokens to everyone at an equal rate. With complementary currencies, like Circles, we can make our systems more diverse and, therefore, more resilient. Yes, it may be clumsy (you need to learn to use Circles, just like you learned how to use paper money, or your new Fairphone), but the economic system as a whole may become more stable. Just like with organic, permaculture agriculture: if you lose your strawberry fields, you will still have your roses and potatoes and cannabis. 🙂

What is the benefit of a bottom-up currency?

Using euros as payment is like having a vacuum cleaner attached to your money flow. There’s debt on the farmers’ machines, on the drivers’ trucks, on the fridges in the supermarkets...etc. And if we pay with euros for the strawberries harvested by the farmers’ machines, for example, a big part of the value ends up in the banks that issued those debts. In other words, the vacuum cleaner of the banks sucks up this value from the local economy. If we use Circles and participate in a local economy, the money and the value stay close to us and also return in different ways. This is one of the most important advantages of complementary currencies. Without circulating money, societies will struggle. It’s important to create more local forms of exchange, which keeps the value for the local industries. This way, trade is more ecological, decentralized, sustainable and equal.

Read more about how you can organize economic circles in the handbook.

Do I have to pay taxes after Circles tokens (CRC)?

If you are a business, or you accept Circles for some kind of goods or services you provide, you should pay taxes in Euros or in your local official currency. Just like you would for any other kind of income: bitcoin, euros, dollar, etc.

If you are a private person, it’s similar. If you sell your bike for CRC, you don’t need to pay taxes. However, if you sell a lot of bikes, even if you are not a business, you might have taxing obligations.

Taxation is relative to your jurisdiction and must be handled accordingly. We do not offer tax advice and recommend that you speak to an expert from your area.

Here are sample tax assessments of concrete economic consumptions of Circles, based on German laws.