Over the past ten years there has been a growing interest in alternative currencies, specifically cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and its blockchain technology. A study from the University of Birmingham suggests that these models aren’t very useful for entrepreneurs in Birmingham. The research identified an alternative model called Sardex that launched in 2010 in Italy. Sardex provides a business-to-business local currency that increases the liquidity available to entrepreneurs and connects them with new business opportunities. It is now being used by over 15,000 small businesses across Italy and facilitates €100millions-worth of transactions each year.
The event will provide an overview of alternative currencies, including Bitcoin, and outline their limitations in supporting local entrepreneurs. It will detail findings from the University project's fieldwork in Italy that investigated how Sardex supports innovation and collaboration between local entrepreneurs. Finally, it will introduce Parity Network, a spin-out project from the study that launched a local currency and marketplace in Birmingham in June 2020. Parity is now increasing the liquidity available to twenty two small businesses and connecting them with new business opportunities.