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Brussels local currency Zinne plans electronic version

13:46 11/09/2020

Since the launch of Brussels' local currency, the zinne, in March last year, more than 100,000 zinnes have entered in circulation in the Belgian capital.

While the take-up of the currency, worth the same value as the euro, is not insignificant, it is still not performing as well as hoped. This is mainly due to the restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic which led to some of the 175 shops and restaurants that accept zinnes closing down or suspending and adapting their services.

Other factors include the lack of recognition or knowledge of the currency among citizens, and the additional hassle of converting euros into zinne at exchange counters.

But that could all change with the proposed introduction of a virtual version of the currency made available through a smartphone application that should be in place by the end of the year.

It is hoped that this technology will boost the currency and encourage its use by allowing citizens and businesses to make cashless transactions, the favoured exchange during the Covid-19 crisis.

At the moment, zinne are only available in physical note form, printed in values up to 20 zinne, including a zero and a 2.5 zinne bill. The zero bill is connected to the concept of time banks, which can be used for the exchange of services between individuals.

“The problem is that we only have our currency in cash form,” says Arnaud Heremans of the citizens' collective De Zinne, the organisation behind the currency.

“Due to the health regulations, many traders have sworn off cash. We expect to see an increase in participating trades once we have developed and rolled out the app.”

That app, which is generating interest and support from several local authorities who want to apply the zinnes in their municipality, will make it possible to convert money to zinnes via your smartphone.

By scanning a QR code, you can make payments to affiliated merchants in the currency. A summary list of participating businesses will also be built into the app to help users.

Written by Nick Amies