In economics, a time-based currency is an alternative currency where the unit of exchange is the person-hour. Some time-based currencies value everyone’s contributions equally: one hour equals one service credit. In these systems, one person volunteers to work for an hour for another person; thus, they are credited with one hour, which they can redeem for an hour of service from another volunteer. Critics charge that this would lead to fewer doctors or dentists. Other systems, such as Ithaca Hours, let doctors and dentists charge more hours per hour.
- 1 Early time-based currency exchanges
- 2 Time Dollars
- 3 Origins and philosophy
- 4 Time banking and the time bank
- 5 Criticisms
- 6 Time banking around the world
- 7 Organisational Time Banking
- 8 Studies and examples
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Early time-based currency exchanges
Time-based currency exchanges date back to the early 19th century. The National Equitable Labour Exchange was founded by Robert Owen, a Welsh socialist and labor reformer in London, England, in 1832. It established Birmingham, England, before folding in 1834. It issued "Labour Notes" similar to banknotes, denominated in units of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 40, and 80 hours. John Gray, a socialist economist, worked with Owen and later with Ricardian Socialists and postulated a National Chamber of Commerce as a central bank issuing a labour currency.
In 1848, the socialist and first self-designated anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon postulated a system of time chits. In 1875, Karl Marx wrote of "Labor Certificates" (Arbeitszertifikaten) in his Critique of the Gotha Program of a "certificate from society that [the labourer] has furnished such and such an amount of labour", which can be used to draw "from the social stock of means of consumption as much as costs the same amount of labour." . Josiah Warren published a book describing labor notes in 1852 
Edgar S. Cahn coined the term "Time Dollars" in Time Dollars: The New Currency That Enables Americans to Turn Their Hidden Resource-Time-Into Personal Security & Community Renewal, a book co-authored with Jonathan Rowe in 1992. He also went on to trademark the terms "Time Bank" and "Time Credit".
Time Dollars are a tax-exempt complementary currency used as a means of providing mutual credit in Time Banking. They are typically called "time credits" or "service credits" outside the United States. Time Bank members exchange services for Time Dollars. Each exchange is recorded as a corresponding credit and debit in the accounts of the participants. One hour of time is worth one Time Dollar, regardless of the service provided in one hour or how much skill is required to perform the task during that hour. This "one-for-one" system that relies on an abundant resource is designed to both recognize and encourage reciprocal community service, resist inflation, avoid hoarding, enable trade, and encourage cooperation among participants.
Time Banks have been established in 34 countries, with at least 300 Time Banks established in 40 US states and 300 throughout the United Kingdom. Time Banks also have a significant presence in Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan, Senegal, Argentina, Israel, Greece, and Spain. Time Banks have been used to reduce recidivism rates with diversionary programs for first-time juvenile offenders; facilitate re-entry of for ex-convicts; deliver health care, job training and social services in public housing complexes; facilitate substance abuse recovery; prevent institutionalization of severely disabled children through parental support networks; provide transportation for homebound seniors in rural areas; deliver elder care, community health services and hospice care; and foster women's rights initiatives in Senegal.
Time banking is a pattern of reciprocal service exchange that uses units of time as currency. It is an example of a complementary monetary system. A time bank, also known as a service exchange, is a community that practices time banking. The unit of currency, always valued at an hour's worth of any person's labor, used by these groups has various names, but is generally known as a time dollar in the USA and a time credit in the UK. Time banking is primarily used to provide incentives and rewards for work such as mentoring children, caring for the elderly, being neighborly—work usually done on a volunteer basis—which a pure market system devalues. Essentially, the "time" one spends providing these types of community services earns "time" that one can spend to receive services. As well as gaining credits, participating individuals, particularly those more used to being recipients in other parts of their lives, can potentially gain confidence, social contact and skills through giving to others. Communities therefore use time banking as a tool to forge stronger intra-community connections, a process known as "building social capital". Time banking had its intellectual genesis in the USA in the early 1980s. By 1990, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation had invested USD 1.2 million to pilot time banking in the context of senior care. Today, 26 countries have active Time Banks. There are 250 Time Banks active in the UK and over 276 Time Banks in the U.S.
Origins and philosophy
According to Edgar S. Cahn, time banking had its roots in a time when "money for social programs [had] dried up" and no dominant approach to social service in the U.S. was coming up with creative ways to solve the problem. He would later write that "Americans face at least three interlocking sets of problems: growing inequality in access by those at the bottom to the most basic goods and services; increasing social problems stemming from the need to rebuild family, neighborhood and community; and a growing disillusion with public programs designed to address these problems" and that "the crisis in support for efforts to address social problems stems directly from the failure of . . . piecemeal efforts to rebuild genuine community." In particular Cahn focused on the top-down attitude prevalent in social services. He believed that one of the major failings of many social service organizations was their unwillingness to enroll the help of those people they were trying to help. He called this a deficit based approach to social service, where organizations view the people they were trying to help only in terms of their needs, as opposed to an asset based approach, which focuses on the contributions towards their communities that everyone can make. He theorized that a system like time banking could "[rebuild] the infrastructure of trust and caring that can strengthen families and communities." He hoped that the system "would enable individuals and communities to become more self-sufficient, to insulate themselves from the vagaries of politics and to tap the capacity of individuals who were in effect being relegated to the scrap heap and dismissed as freeloaders."
- Everyone is an asset
- Some work is beyond a monetary price
- Reciprocity in helping
- Social networks are necessary
- A respect for all human beings
Ideally, time banking builds community. Time Bank members sometimes refer to this as a return to simpler times when the community was there for its individuals. An interview at a time bank in the Gorbals neighborhood of Glasgow revealed the following sentiment:
[the time bank] involves everybody coming together as a community . . . the Gorbals has never—not for a long time—had a lot of community spirit. Way back, years ago, it had a lot of community spirit, but now you see that in some areas, people won't even go to the chap next door for a some sugar . . . that's what I think the project's doing, trying to bring that back, that community sense . . .
Time banking and the time bank
Time Bank members earn credit in Time Dollars for each hour they spend helping other members of the community. Services offered by members in Time Banks include: Child Care, Legal Assistance, Language Lessons, Home Repair, and Respite Care for caregivers, among other things. Time Dollars earned are then recorded at the Time Bank to be accessed when desired. A Time Bank can theoretically be as simple as a pad of paper, but the system was originally intended to take advantage of computer databases for record keeping. Some Time Banks employ a paid coordinator to keep track of transactions and to match requests for services with those who can provide them. Other Time Banks select a member or a group of members to handle these tasks. Various organizations provide specialized software to help local Time Banks manage exchanges. The same organizations also often offer consulting services, training, and other materials for individuals or organizations looking to start Time Banks of their own.
Example services offered by Time Bank members
|Child care||Legal assistance||Language lessons|
|Home repair||Respite care||Account management|
|Writing||Odd jobs||Office/business support|
The mission of an individual time bank influences exactly which services are offered. In some places, time banking is adopted as a means to strengthen the community as a whole. Other time banks are more oriented towards social service, systems change, and helping underprivileged groups. In some time banks, both are acknowledged goals.
The time dollar
The time dollar is the fundamental unit of exchange in a time bank, equal to one hour of a person's labor. In traditional time banks, one hour of one person's time is equal to one hour of another's. Time dollars are earned for providing services and spent receiving services. Upon earning a Time Dollar, a person does not need to spend it right away: they can save it indefinitely. However, since the value of a Time Dollar is fixed at one hour, it resists inflation and does not earn interest. In these ways it is intentionally designed to differ from the traditional fiat currency used in most countries. Consequently, it does little good to hoard Time Dollars and, in practice, many time banks also encourage the donation of excess Time Dollars to a community pool which is then spent for those in need or on community events.
Some criticisms of time banking have focused on the time dollar's inadequacies as a form of currency and as a market information mechanism. Frank Fisher of MIT predicted in the 80s that such a currency "would lead to the kind of distortion of market forces which had crippled Russia's economy." It is precisely the non-commercial, not-for-profit, noncontractual, and non-monetary value of time dollars which exempts them from taxation in the United States; were they to be used as a substitute for money, they would simply be another form of exchange.
Dr. Gill Seyfang's study of the Gorbals Time Bank—one of the few studies of time banking done by the academic community—listed several other non-theoretical problems with time banking. The first is the difficulty of communicating to potential members exactly what makes time banking different, or "getting people to understand the difference between Time Banking and traditional volunteering." She also notes that there is no guarantee that every person's needs will be provided for by a Time Bank by dint of the fact that the supply of certain skills may be lacking in a community.
One of the most stringent criticisms of Time Banking is its organizational sustainability. While some member-run Time Banks with relatively low overhead costs do exist, others pay a staff to keep the organization running. This can be quite expensive for smaller organizations and without a long-term source of funding, they may fold.
Time banking around the world
Time banking in Canada
Founded March 19, 2012, Waterloo Region Time Exchange (WRTE) was one of few pioneers time banks who started earlier in Canada following the lead Timebanks USA and time banking movement around the world. Within two years of the establishment, WRTE counts for more than 160 helpers mainly from Waterloo Region who have exchanged and offered more than 1500 hours for community-based organizations and with one another.
The Guelph-Wellington Time Bank was launched at the 2013 Resilience Festival and now counts 100 members. This project has received a grant to help pay for administration costs. It also makes use of people-power support provided by Transition Guelph.
Time banking in the United Kingdom
In 1998 Martin Simon opened the first time bank in the UK in Stonehouse in Gloucestershire. There are now over 300 time banks in the UK involving over 25,000 participants who have given and received over one million hours of mutual support. See www.timebanking.org and www.freedomfavours.com
Time banking in Northern Ireland
Volunteer Now has been piloting Timebanking since 2011 in a number of contexts to develop an evidence base and a sustainable model of practice for communities and organisations in Northern Ireland. Pilots are currently under way in a social housing, community development, community currencies, and organisational exchange context. Other Timebanks have been established in community health, environmental, geographical, Irish language medium, older people specific projects, school and higher education and mental health and wellbeing. See http://www.volunteernow.co.uk/volunteering/timebanking and https://www.facebook.com/TimebankingVolunteerNow?fref=nf
Time banking in Ukraine
In 2009 NGO "Humanitarian Center" opened the first Regional Exchange System “Time Banking” (RES "TB") in Kiev, Ukraine. The RES "TB" relates to ROCSystems as it’s a Robust Complementary Community Currency System, is developed with account taken of international experience and recommendations. There are now nearly 50 branches in Ukraine. See www.bankvremeni.org
Time banking in Australia
In August 2012 a Timebanking trial was established in Australia (in the Newcastle and Central Coast regions) with New South Wales government funding. This trial saw 4,000 members exchange 8,000 hours of support. On 5 November 2013, based on the success of the trial, the New South Wales Government announced that the existing trial region would transition to 14 Timebanking pilot sites (one for each local government area) and that 30 new Timebanking pilots would commence in 2014. By June 2014, 4,600 members in 44 locations had exchanged more than 13,000 hours of Timebanking support. A further 20 communities will commence Timebanking in 2014.
Timebanking in New South Wales has been very effective in supporting older people, and in creating social capital in local communities. An evaluation of the experience in available at: http://www.volunteering.nsw.gov.au/about-us/evaluation-and-research. Those resident in Australia may join Timebanking at www.timebanking.com.au.
Time banking in Tunisia
Lotfi Kaabi, Advisor on Social Innovation to the Tunisian President and creative producer of Institute for Citizenship, a think tank that aimes to eradicate multidimensional poverty at the micro-level through ACACIA franchise (that's Community Agency for Citizen Action and Administrative Intelligence), has launched Nabta Bank نقد بديل للتكافل التونسي as an alternative currency to be used by the ACACIAs to engage volunteers and joblesses. The concept includes the creation of Nabta Stores that offer food products against time units spent in the community volunteering. The plan is to create 28 Nabta Stores in 2014
Global Time Banking
Organisational Time Banking
Echo (Economy of Hours) is a UK non-profit organisation, established to deliver the infrastructure for mainstreamed time banking. It provides free support and web solutions to time banks and is developing a sustainable income stream for local time banks, in the form of its commercial organisational (B2B) time bank.
Financed by Nesta and delivered in partnership with the London Legacy Development Corporation, Echo developed the first successful UK platform to link local time banks and enable members to fully self-manage.
It is also the first organisation to focus upon B2B time banking, carrying out ongoing research into the benefits to organisations beyond the initial exchanges, and lobbying central government on challenges relating to time banking at scale. Echo have made their model and its software available to regional organisations seeking to deliver time bank networks in their own areas.
Echo works to develop time exchange as a legitimate way for people, organisations, businesses and corporates to trade, creating a national currency in the process.
Studies and examples
Elderplan was a social HMO which incorporated Time Banking as a way to promote active, engaged lifestyles for its older members. Funding for the "social" part of social HMOs has since dried up and much of the program has been cut, but at its height, members were able to pay portions of their premiums in Time Dollars instead of hard currency. The idea was to encourage older people to become more engaged in their communities while also to ask for help more often and "[foster] dignity by allowing people to contribute services as well as receive them."
Gorbals time bank study
In 2004, Dr. Gill Seyfang published a study in the Community Development Journal about the effects of a Time Bank located in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, Scotland, "an inner-city estate characterized by high levels of deprivation, poverty, unemployment, poor health and low educational attainment." The Gorbals Time Bank is run by a local charity with the intent to combat the social ills that face the region. Seyfang concluded that the Time Bank was effective at "building community capacity" and "promoting social inclusion." She highlights the Time Bank's success at "[re-stitching] the social fabric of the Gorbals." by "[boosting] engagement in existing projects and activities" in a variety of projects including a community safety network, a library, a healthy living project, and a theatre. She writes that "the time bank had enabled people to access help they otherwise would have had to do without," help which included home repair, gardening, a funeral, and tuition paid in Time Dollars to a continuing education course.
Rushey Green Time Bank
Rushey Green Time Bank was the first time bank in the UK to be based in a health-care setting. It is the largest time bank in South East London and it has established a reputation for pioneering work in this field for 12 years. It is based in a medical centre – The Rushey Green Group Practice – in the borough of Lewisham, South East London. The Time Bank operates in a specific catchment area defined by the Rushey Green Ward boundaries in Lewisham.
In 1999, in partnership with the New Economics Foundation, Dr Richard Byng at the Rushey Green Group Practice instigated the idea of the Time Bank. Dr Byng was convinced that increasing their contact with other people could help many of his patients who presented themselves with symptoms of depression and isolation. He also hoped to find a framework in which they could feel useful to society and needed by others. The Time Bank was piloted as an innovative way to promote wellbeing, health, social inclusion and social capital locally. Rushey Green Time Bank became a registered charity in 2004.
The Time Bank continues to be supported by the Rushey Green Group Practice which provides patient-centered holistic care for almost 10000 patients in Catford. Through joint projects between Rushey Green Time Bank and the Rushey Green Group Practice, time bank members can be actively involved in their own health care, and in the promotion of good health.
In recent times the Rushey Green Time Bank has received four awards:
- In 2007, the ‘Let’s do it’ award from the South London press and Barclays Bank
- The 2008 London Health Commission award for ‘Outstanding achievements in partnership with the NHS – activities that bring communities together to work with NHS staff to improve health and well-being’
- The 2008/09 City of London Sustainable City Award for ‘Access to goods and services for disadvantaged communities’
- In 2009, Dr Edgar Cahn’s Founder’s Award ‘For pioneers in enlisting the community to co-produce health and well being’.
Rushey Green Time Bank also hosts the 'Bring and Fix' initiative created by Philippe Granger under the London Leaders 2011 programme.
- Alternative currency
- Community currency
- Local exchange trading system
- Private currency
- Social capital
- Cincinnati Time Store
- Community currency
- Community Exchange System
- Collaborative finance
- Coproduction of public services by service users and communities
- Fiscal localism
- Fourth Corner Exchange
- Ithaca Hours
- Labour theory of value
- Labour-time voucher
- List of economics topics
- Ripple monetary system
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- National Equitable Labour Exchange article, Trade Union Congress history project of the London Metropolitan University
- Tadayuki Tsushima, Understanding “Labor Certificates” on the Basis of the Theory of Value, 1956
- Warren, Josiah (1852). Equitable Commerce: A New Development of Principles. New York: Burt Franklin Press. p. 117.
- Cahn, Edgar (1992). Time Dollars: The New Currency That Enables Americans to Turn Their Hidden Resource-Time-Into Personal Security & Community Renewal. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press. ISBN 978-0-87857-985-3.
- "TIME BANKS Trademark". TrademarkHound. US PatentOffice.
- "TIME CREDITS Trademark". TrademarkHound. US Patent Office.
- Lietaer, Bernard; Dunne, Jacqui (2013). "Chapter5: The Future Has Arrived But Isn't Distributed Evenly...Yet!". Rethinking Money: how new currencies turn scarcity into prosperity. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-60994-296-0.
- Ryan-Collins, Anna; Stephens, Lucie; Coote (2008). The new wealth of time: how timebanking helps people build better public services. London, UK: New Economics Foundation. pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-1-904882-45-9.
- Ferrara, Peter (March 1, 2013). "Rethinking Money: The Rise Of Hayek's Private Competing Currencies". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
- Lietaer, Bernard; Dunne, Jacqui (2013). Rethinking Money: how new currencies turn scarcity into prosperity. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. pp. 5, 79–85. ISBN 978-1-60994-296-0.
- Collom, Ed; Lasker, Judith (2012). Equal Time, Equal Value: Community Currencies and Time Banking in the US. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Limited. pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-1-4094-4904-1.
- Cahn, Edgar (November 17, 2011). "Time Banking: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?". Yes Magazine. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
- Cahn, Edgar (July 19, 2011). Beyond Bartering: Banking On Community Connections. Interview with Michel Martin. National Public Radio: Tell Me More. Washington, DC.
- Simon, Martin (2010). Your Money or Your Life: Time for Both. Gloucestershire, UK: Freedom Favours. pp. 110–115. ISBN 978-0-9566556-0-8.
- "Minister hails Japan care scheme". BBC News UK. 30 October 2010. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
- Madaleno, Margarida (29 August 2012). "Time-banking offers hope to the dispossessed youth of Europe". New Statesman. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
- Shah, Angana; Samb, Pape (October 2011). Time Banking™ Is More Than Money for Women in Senegal (Report). World Bank, International Finance Corporation. pp. 1-4. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/10431/652800BRI0IFC000Banking0Angana0Shah.pdf?sequence=1. Retrieved 7 April 2013. "foster women's rights initiatives in Senegal."
- Building Social and Economic Support Networks with Time Dollars (Report). Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Center for the Study of Public Policy. 2004. pp. 5-10. http://www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/Publications.aspx?pubguid=%7B40FBC27E-707C-4575-BCCB-15C81C680DA6%7D.
- Ryan-Collins, Anna; Stephens, Lucie; Coote (2008). The new wealth of time: how timebanking helps people build better public services. London, UK: New Economics Foundation. pp. 19–51. ISBN 978-1-904882-45-9.
- Phelps Stokes Fund (November 2008). Coming Home: An Asset-Based Approach to Transforming Self & Community (Report). Co-Production at Work. 1. W.K. Kellogg Foundation. "facilitate re-entry of for ex-convicts"
- Letcher, Abby S.; Perlow, Kathy M. (December 2009). "Community-Based Participatory Research Shows How a Community Initiative Creates Networks to Improve Well-Being". American Journal of Preventive Medicine 37 (6S1): S292–S299. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2009.08.008. PMID 19896032.
- Miyashita, Mitsunori et al. (June–July 2008). "The Japan HOspice and Palliative Care Evaluation study (J-HOPE study): study design and characteristics of participating institutions". American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine 25 (3): 223–232. doi:10.1177/1049909108315517. PMID 18573997.
- Seyfang, Gill. "Time banks: rewarding community self-help in the inner city?" Community Development Journal 39.1 (January 2004): 63.
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004.
- About Time Banking UK Accessed March 23, 2012.
- "Time Banks Directory".
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004. xix.
- Cahn, Edgar S. "Time dollars, work and community: from 'why?' to 'why not?'" Futures 31 (1999): 499.
- Cahn, Edgar S. "Time dollars, work and community: from 'why?' to 'why not?'" Futures 31 (1999): 507.
- ibid. 505
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004. 87.
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004. 5–6.
- "Time Trade NZ".
- "The Five Core Values".
- Seyfang. G. (2004) ‘Time Banks: Rewarding community self-help in the inner city?’ Community Development Journal 39 (1): 66
- Exchanging Services - Banking Time - Strengthening Communities Hour Exchange Portland, Accessed May 30, 2008
- e.g., the Hour Exchange Portland
- e.g., the Cape Ann Time Bank
- In the U.K.: TimeBanking UK; in the U.S.: TimeBanks USA, Portland Time Bank
- Seyfang, Gill. "Re-stitching the social fabric: one favour at a time" Town and Country Planning, September 1, 2001.
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004: 59–77.
- Cahn, Edgar S. No More Throw Away People. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2004: 6.
- Seyfang. G. (2004) ‘Time Banks: Rewarding community self-help in the inner city?’ Community Development Journal 39 (1): 69
- Seyfang. G. (2004) ‘Time Banks: Rewarding community self-help in the inner city?’ Community Development Journal 39 (1): 69.
- Sustainability - The Business of Timebanking.. Time Bank Aotearoa New Zealand, Accessed July 23, 2012.
- Pensabene, Francesco. "TimeRepublik è la banca del tempo mondiale". FOCUS. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- "TIMEREPUBLIK finalist at LeWeb London". Startupticker. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Bolino, Francesca. "Cuochi, scrittori, idraulici ecco la banca online per prestare un' ora di talento". La Repubblica. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- Louv, Richard. "Time Dollars gain currency helping the needy" San Diego Tribune May 31, 1995.
- Wetzstein, Cheryl. "Seniors use time, not money, to buy services; Idea helps promote independent living" The Washington Times December 17, 1998.
- Seyfang. G. (2004) ‘Time Banks: Rewarding community self-help in the inner city?’ Community Development Journal 39 (1): 64
- ibid. 67–68.
- ibid. 68
- see Bring & Fix | CLES http://www.cles.org.uk/features/bring-fix/
- TimeBanks Membership Community
- TimeBanking Australia
- TIMEREPUBLIK, Global Time Banking
- BLIIVE, Time Banking Social Network
- Adding simple and effective trust measurements to F2F P2P networks is a paper about using a Time-based currency for trust in F2F P2P computer networks.
- Comunitats.com Create your online time bank site.
- Kingdom of Time Currency Gallery
-  Agency Time Credits in Wales
-  NYC community timebank
- 65hours Time banking site - making time banking available to everyone