U.K. City Hull Trials Own Digital Currency

Hull, a UK city in East Yorkshire, is testing its own cryptocurrency called HullCoin. It will be earned by residents who take part in volunteer and community work.

The UK port city of Hull might remunerate volunteers and active community workers by offering them discounts in local shops and tax cuts through a digital currency. The government has supported the creation of a special cryptocurrency for this: HullCoin, which is stored and transferred via a blockchain-based network. The initiative has raised around £240,000 from government contributions and charities.

If the project works out well, the concept will be promoted at the national level.

At this point, several other UK cities, such as Bristol or Lewes, have already tested their own complementary currencies to support the domestic economy. However, they have operated with fiat money while Hull will implement cryptocurrency. Moreover, people won’t be able to buy HullCoins with cash, as in the case with Bristol Pound or Lewes Pound. Hull residents will have to provide “good works” in exchange. A note describing the specific type of work will be linked to the coin on the blockchain.

Non-profit organization Kaini Industries is responsible for the technology development in the project. Its co-founder and CEO David Shepherdson said that these coins would be similar to loyalty cards in corporations. He told the Financial Times:

“Businesses love discounts because they create footfall. But this is discounting without devaluing the brand. Every discount they give for a HullCoin links them to something supporting the local community.”

Local retailers will offer HullCoin owners discounts ranging between 10% and 50%.

To earn the coins, Hull residents will have to take part in different activities, for example helping pensioners and children, managing youth clubs, and even giving up smoking. Once the project is approved, the coins will be issued by the local authorities, schools, charities, community groups, prisons, and other local bodies.

Shepherdson revealed that local businesses love the idea as it should both increase sales and support corporate social responsibility. He said:

“Using blockchain technology, we embed time-stamped evidence of the positive social outcome of whatever activity has been undertaken into the coin itself. This creates a distributed ledger of all the socially good things happening in the community and gives people a social CV they can show to a prospective employer.”

The HullCoin project is being tested by a group of 800 volunteers, 73 issuing entities, and 140 retailers. If it goes well, the coin will be launched in January next year.

We have also reported that Singapore might have its own cryptocurrency by next year. The move will represent the fifth and final stage of Project Ubin, which is currently under way.