2. In a complementary currency ecosystem

2.2. Typologies

2.2.5. Barter markets

These complementary currencies occupy the fourth and final place in terms of numbers of initiatives worldwide, representing 1.4% of the total.

Barter markets are a hybrid of mutual exchange and local currencies systems, providing a new infrastructure that enables participants to exchange goods and services within the framework of a site-specific event, without the need for conventional currency. The users of barter markets join a local club, whereby they obtain the local currency in what is effectively an interest-free loan. These currencies are not convertible into official currency.

Barter markets first emerged in Bernal, Buenos Aires, as a sustainability initiative instigated by an environmental NGO in 1995. They emerged within the context of deindustrialization and fiscal crisis, spread rapidly during the Argentine economic crisis of 1999 to 2002, and became a way of life for a broad demographic group. However, internetwork rivalry had a crippling effect on the Argentine barter clubs, which suffered a catastrophic crisis of credibility in 2002. Some barter systems still exist in Argentina and similar models have been adopted in Venezuela and Mexico, where they have remained closely associated with solidarity economy concepts. Informal barter markets also operate in other countries of South America, as well as in Quebec, a region with a strong social economy movement. In Canada, however, greater emphasis is placed on support for sustainable development by reusing goods, while the Mexican and South American systems are motivated by economic solidarity ideology.