Good banks and meaningful money today in France

While I’m very interested in the future of money, I’m even more interested in the future of money now: the very practical things that we can do with the banking and monetary system as it is today.

I have come to realize that the ideas I believe about the future of money, in particular making money more meaningful, are very well understood by small community banks and credit unions. They have incredible assets, one of which is the human-sized organization, which allows you to quickly talk directly to the decision-maker. What they lack are simply the resources of the large banks and the sense of urgency of startups, but I know they are open to partnerships to workaround these issues.

Below is my corrected Google translation of a recent post by JCPhilippe, who is Managing Director of the Credit Agricole in the region of Pyrénées Gascogne in France on how the bank he manages is becoming a good bank.

As part of  a week on “socially responsible savings”, we organized a symposium on 3 November. Distinguished guests, Father Bernard Devert,President and founder of Habitat Humanism , François De Witt,founder of Finansol , and Pierre Scherek, Director General of Ideam convinced us of the usefulness of their actions and this form of savings, still limited in use in France. Socially responsible savings consists in selecting financial investments by adding meaning and socially responsible as a requirement in addition to performance.

We fully support this approach. When I say this, I understand it is difficult to believe a banker is telling the truth. If he speaks of social responsibility, ethics, faithfulness to pledges, and sustainable development, how can we not think that he is only doing so to better profit? The mega-banks have left such a strong mark in people’s mind for their subprime profits, losses, their traders and their bonuses, that it is easy to forget the local bank dedicated to a particular geographical area, which serves, people of modest means, small businesses , artisans, shopkeepers, farmers. The headlines make us forget that finance and banking are first and foremost here to help with daily life. So when a banker says: “I want to be useful!”, Who can believe him? Who can believe that a bank, a banker can have be well-intentioned?

A Pyrenees Gascogne, we believe in the good and useful bank, local solidarity, local cooperations. This idea of a good bank can be seen in everything we do. When we say that advisers are not paid on the products they sell, it’s true, or that we advise our customers products that suit them, it’s true. And because we want a good bank that we have developed a consulting business in how to save energy. And when we provide help to non-profit in our area, it’s because we believe their action is vital to the social fabric.

So if we offer our customers financial products around solidarity and socially responsible investing ( here on the site talking about heritage ), it’s because Pyrenees Gascogne invests itself in these products, it’s because these products are purchased by our employees employee for their own savings, it’s because we believe in the value of these investments for ourselves. We do not follow fashion, we are not trying to conquer a market, we try instead to share a belief with our customers.

I am increasingly convinced that of of the key levers to make companies more virtuous, more accountable to the future is to channel savings into those companies that subscribe to the principles of sustainable development, and integrate this philosophy in their decision and accounting. It is more useful to invest in such investments than to give a little to non-profits, (although each donation is helpful) because that way, they have means to improve their ambitions. We can put more solidarity in the economy and the formula of Phocion “private virtues become public morals” is truer than ever. Of course, we must still dare to believe and decide to build!

Alt.transport currency and carbon offsets

I have been researching a bit more the idea of a SF Bay Area rideshare currency, and realized it should be expanded to any alternative transportation method.

Here’s how it would work:

  • Alt-transportation users would log their shared rides/bicycle rides/walks using a service like RideSpring, which may provide rideshare matching service. From these logs as well as the type of car that would be used otherwise, carbon emission savings would be computed. Certification might involve a mutual process or a device such as the Freiker or the Zap tracking devices for walkers/bicyclists. Users with would be able to withdraw these carbon offset certificates as printed stickers with a barcode.
  • Non-alt transportation users buy carbon offsets certificates issued in proportion to the carbon emissions saved by the tracked usage of alternative transportation. This certificates would be valid for a year and issued as bumper stickers that buyers can proudly stick on their car.
  • Businesses would accept payment of their products/services in part with the carbon offset certificate stickers.
  • In addition, thanks to the recent Commuter Bicycle Benefit bill, bicycling commuters riding at least 3 times a week would be able to get $20 pre-tax income every month from their employers in the form of additional carbon offset dollars (that could only be spent at bicyclist shops).
  • The overall system would be operating by a non-profit charity with a specific additional mission of lobbying for additional tax breaks, in particular for ride sharers not using vanpools.

I need to do the maths, but in the meantime, would love to hear what you think.

Microformats and decentralized online currencies

Most people are probably aware of the announcement by Google (following Yahoo’s announcement) that they would be supporting microformats.

What is really interesting to me is what this means for online currencies.

If you look at an hReview, what it is fundamentally is a declaration of positive (or negative) experience measured as a number betwen 1.0 and 5.0 about an item, which someone publishes on the Web anywhere he/she wants. An aggregator like Google in turns aggregates it and computes an average of the rating. The reviewer does not need the authorization of the reviewed item to publish the review.

That name typically includes a link (URL), which can be viewed as one of the identifiers of the reviewed items on the Web. It might be their own homepage for a restaurant, or it might be a description of the item on a review Web site such as Yelp (here the Yelp URI of a thai restaurant where I live).

In the payment world, there is already a payment application that allows you to donate/pay money without the other person having registered, it’s Tipjoy. The way it works is that you donate to URLs on the Web. Just like an hReview, the recipient does not have to be registered with TipJoy for others to tip them. If and when they eventually register they can claim their money by inserting a tipjoy tag with their username in the HTML of their Web page. Twollars followed a similar process but with Twitter names instead of Web URLs, but Twitter names are also URLs…

So the general pattern of Twollars,  TipJoy and hReview is that you give or review a URL.

This could work for a really open monetary architecture:

  • People would write somewhere on the Web (typically a Web space they own) an hReview-like statement that they give a number of units of currency to someone else. For instance: <span class=”hPay”><span class=”give”>Given</span><span class=”amount”> <span class=”value”>20</span> <span class=”currency” title=””>BH$</span> to <a class=”to fn url” href=””>Blue Elephant restaurant</a></span class=”hPay”> (Note that they could write it manually, but most likely, they will use a form that will generate it for them).
  • An aggregator would find this statement, either by crawling the Web, or if they are blogged via a RSS ping. The aggregator will typically compute balances (positive and negative). In a mutual credit model, people’s balances would be allowed to be negative, but in a traditional government-issued currency, they would not, they’d have to borrow it at interest.
  • Receivers may claim some of the URLs through a similar process than the one used by TipJoy.
  • Users may publish back their balances via a widget on their Web site.

What’s great with this model is that anyone can start playing, even create their own currency, very easily.

More importantly, you can have several accounting services tracking hPay statements and computing balances. You don’t need an account at a bank, your Web site is your bank account. What the accounting service does is simply authenticating that you own the space where you published transactions, and keeping tabs.

There are several issues:

  • Currency creation: Where do we register new currencies so that accounting services can distinguish different currencies? The ISO 4217 code is too limited to support millions of currencies. We need something like I used above: “”, which would allow new currencies to be easily created out of existing ones simply through forking.
  • Currency rules: different currencies have different rules. Some will allow negative balances of any amount, some won’t allow anything below zero, some will allow some negative balances or positive balances with limits (ex. 5,000). These rules must be encoded in a formal language, published to accounting services and participants and associated with the name of the currency. Eric Harris-Braun and Arthur Brock have already explored this topic extensively.
  • Refusal: how does a recipient refuses a given currency amount? (another currency rule BTW) this assumes that the recipient can be notified that their URL was mentioned. This is essentially a linkback.
  • Security, in particular:
    • Authentication: how do we make sure that statements posted indeed come from the person owning the resource.
    • Authorization/Privacy: how to we ensure that not all transactions I make are public, but available only those I transact with and possibly as few as possible trusted reputable intermediaries. OAuth could be useful here if the resources can be easily segmented and tokens can be issued to groups at once.
    • Non-repudiation/Tracability: how do we prevent the effect of people deleting hPay statements.
    • etc.

Quite a lot to think about. Some of these items will be the topic of future posts.

What is a currency?

This is the basic question that came up on a Flash Meeting titled “Open Money for Beginners” organized by Christophe Ducamp last Sunday. This is also a question that Eric Harris-Braun, Art Brock and I ended up discussing on a conference call last Friday night. So, I decided to take a shot at it, knowing that not everyone will agree at first, but hoping I can start a constructive debate and that we can agree on a definition at some point.


One angle to start with, is etymology:

  • In English, “currency” comes from L. currentum, pp. of currere “to run”.
  • In French, the translated word is “devise”, which is essentially a motto, something you stand for, a rule you live by. In French, we have two words that are closer to the English word: “monnaie courante”, which means the money that is widely accepted.
  • In German, the translated word is “Währung”, which according to the wikipedia page comes from a word that means “warranty”, but may also be from the verb “währen” which means “to last”.
  • In Spanish, the translated word is “moneda”, which according to the etymology, means a coin minted with the mark of the issuing authority, which gives credit to its value.

So, three languages focus on the currency as something whose value is ensured by the reputation of its issuer. Only the English word derives from the consequence of this quality, which is that it flows easily between people.

Attempted definition

A currency is a means of payment denominated in a unit of value, issued, marked and ultimately redeemed by an issuer who guarantees (“backs”) its value. This guarantee is a function of the issuer’s reputation. The stronger the reputation the more the currency will be accepted and flow.

Why a currency is not a unit of value – See discussion between Chris Cook and Thomas Greco on P2P Foundation wiki.


Airmiles are backed by the airline company’s ability to redeem them for flights.

Twollars backed by EisoMac Ltd and sponsors’ commitment to donate one US$ for each donated Twollar.

Hours at time banks backed by the commitment of participants to deliver on one hours of their time.

Can we go beyond this definition?

There are many people that are streching this definition.

Supporters of the meta currency project, according to my understanding, view the above definition as restrictive and unable to correctly address forms of wealth that are not tradeable such as health. On this topic, I think that although I can’t trade my health, my heath or health-related activities can be tracked, and these have values to the welfare system I participate in. For instance, if I don’t smoke and I can back it up via a reputable issuer (either a doctor or a trusted device), that fact has value to the welfare system (less cost to them down the road) and could be the basis of a health currency.

Other examples given by the meta currency project are: right to vote. Voting can be viewed as something issued to each voter for a particular ballot and that they redeem to the issuer when voting. There is indeed some flow of wealth here, backed by the ability of the issuer to implement the voted proposition, but voting rights cannot be transfered. School grades are another example. I see these processes as reputation-building processes that in turn can back a currency, but not as currency themselves.

I have also heard people like IdentityWoman talking about identity infocards or as a currency. This is a topic I have addressed in a recent blog post. I don’t think that my “date of birth” or “email” is a currency b/c if I issue 10 tokens that can be redeemed for it, without accountable privacy policies, one party redeeming it devalues it for the 9 other token holders. Plus having more than 1 token is useless. Plus I only want the person I share it with to redeem it. On the other hand, I can see possibly how a blogger could issue tokens denominated in blog posts or tweets that could be redeemed by the holder to access restricted content on the blog.

In online multiplayer games, there are currencies that are not use to trade goods with other players, but that can be only exchanged with the game itself. An example is influence, which some games dispense quite generously and are a parameter to the success of some operations in the game. But obviously, these games operate in a virtual context that do not have the limited resources of our real world, so that may be not such a problem.

What is your opinion? should the world currency be kept to something that can be used as a form of payment in a trade, or should it be used in a wider variety of social contracts/games/processes? more importantly, will it help people understand and adopt new currencies or will it make things more complicated and backfire?

Striving for Meaningful exchanges

I spotted an ad for some photographic equipment for sale on Craigslist this morning that had the following post-scriptum:

I have to make rent and times are tough. So make an offer.

And this morning in my taxi, next to the “No Check” sticker, a yellow sticker woud read:

I am Self Employed Independent Contractor. I’d appreciate your repeat business.

One way to look at this is that it is a form of “Authentic Marketing” but I prefer to describe it simply as adding meaning to transactions, in the above cases: helping someone possibly unemployed, or rewarding someone who is contributing via its small business to a wider diversity.

These are examples that while exchanges are fundamental for mutual wealth, exchanges aren’t just about money. Exchanges preceded money, and even when first monies appeared, it was not uncommon for multiple of them to exist concurrently, each with its distinct role, or meaning. Money as we know it today (standardized, government issued) has had a huge objectifying influence on our subjective values, an effect that authors like Georg Simmel have described as completely objectifying and alienating. Others, more recent, authors like Viviana Zelizer in her book The Social Meaning of Money argue that subjective values have had a largely underestimated influence on our money as well, with people relying on a variety of techniques to give back social meaning to the colorless government-issued money, such as using different jars in their household for different uses. To Zelizer, under the surface of a single fungible government-issued currency, people use what amounts to a myriad of different currencies: they all flow differently even though they are all denominated in dollars.

In other words, old habits die hard and humans strive for meaning in everything they do, something the game designers try to satisfy as much as possible in their alternative worlds. As people look to compensate for less transactions with more meaning per transaction, we ought to see a wide range of solutions that will help them do just that.

Without going to a different currency, one example based on the above could simply be for users to expose part of their identity (unemployed) to a trusted party in a way that guarantees buyers on Craigslist that their money indeed goes to a person who is unemployed, and not someone deceiving to get an unfair advantage. That trusted party does not need to be an institution, but simply a social network.

If we think in terms of a new currency, one thing to keep in mind is that while money is a very powerful leverage tool, it is not what will drive people to exchange. A currency does not enable exchanges, it facilitates them, and one way it can facilitate them is by having built-in meaning.

Thoughts on a Twitter Time Bank with multi-currency support

Today, Eiso Kant, the co-founder of Twollars announced that he had been working lately on a multi-currency version of Twollars, and that “soon everyone can start their own currency on Twitter”. This could be an interesting development for Twollars, which have so far acted as a multiplier and allocator of the generosity of the sponsors US dollars donations: Twollars are backed by commitment of sponsors to donate real US dollars to the charity of the donator’s choice (the first $1,000 was sponsored by Eisomac Ltd, the creator of Twollars themselves, and it seems they are now looking for a new sponsor for the next $10,000).

We will have to wait until more details emerge, as there are many different ways a multi-currency platform could be implemented.

In the meantime, I’d like to share some thoughts on the concept of a Twitter Time Bank, something I’ve been thinking about in the last few days.


The goal of the Twitter Time Bank is to allow people to bring the reality to the idea that “time is money”, and allow anyone to issue their own time-based money they can use to pay others for products/services or to donate to others.

Here is an example of how it would work:

“(from @glebleu) give @receiver 1 hr for …” would give the receiver the right to schedule 1 hour of my time with him/her/them, through an operation called “redeeming”. Alternatively, they could transfer the time/money I gave him/her/them to someone else via the following Tweet: “(from @receiver1) give @receiver2 1 @glebleu hr for …” (receiver1 gives one hour of glebleu to receiver2).

Give syntax

Anyone is free to give their own time money to anyone else they want for whatever reason they want. They can give as much as they want (but there is an obvious limit, as each person’s time is limited). Anyone is also free to transfer other people’s time money they received to someone else. Here is the syntax:

Short syntax (@giver = @issuer) “give @receiver 5 hr ….”  or  “give @receiver 10 mn …”

Long syntax (@giver <> @ issuer) “give @receiver 5 @issuer hr” or “give @receiver 10 @issuer mn”

units supported: hr or mn

Accept syntax

Although you are free to give your time money to anyone for something, they are also free to acknowledge it or reject it. Acknowledgment would be done via the following Twitter syntax:

Short syntax: (@issuer = @giver) “accept 1 @giverissuer hr for …”

Long syntax: (@issuer <> @giver) “accept 1 @giver hr from @issuer for …”

Creating fungibility with community currencies

Fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are capable of mutual substitution.”

Personal time money is hard to get accepted, obviously. With the above scheme, each time you are given some time money, you need to review the issuer for the value of his/her time to you and his/her creditworthiness.

To make personal time money useful, we need to make it fungible, but obviously all people’s time is not fungible. It is only within specific groups/communities that it may be.

To create mutual substitution, we need to allow people to spontaneously mutually agree to make their time money substitutable with one another. This agreement is a currency. In Twitter terms, @user1, @user2, etc. create a community whose currency is for instance called #bernal (say for the Bernal Heights neighborhood in San Francisco to support neighborhood “barn raising” events). In the community currency configuration, the community admin can decide:

  • how people can be accepted in the community (ex. unanimous vote, cooptation from a minimum number of existing community members, verification of affiliation, etc.)
  • the limit on each community members’ un-redeemed issued time.
  • whether the currency can be sold for US$ to highest bidder (note that there is no way to prevent it from happening, so it’s better for the process of buying/selling currency for US$ to happen in a way that can be tracked and users protected from theft).

Once this is set up,  community members can issue community currency backed by their own personal time money. For instance, if I’m a member of #bernal, when I tweet “give @receiver 1 #bernal hr for…”, I automatically have an additional @glebleu hr that is accounted for in my un-redeemed issued time. If I exceed the personal issuing limit set for my community, the issuance is rejected (the received can’t accept it).

Web service

A Web service would provide a Web version of give and accept actions, as well as the following actions:

  • reports:
    • un-redeemed issued time,
    • un-redeemed (but scheduled) issued time,
    • total redeemed issued time
  • search profiles of people that you can redeem your personal money or community currency with
  • request redemption (schedule time & location, or redeem for US$)
  • confirm redemption
  • bid in US$ for redeemable personal time money or community currency
  • personal profile/preferences
    • auto-accept given money (default is no for personal time money, can be configured on a per community currency basis)
    • authorize personal time money issued to be sold for US$ to highest bidder (default is no, but there is no real way to prevent it to happen)
    • community currencies joined
    • schedule w/ booked time.
    • geo location, services/products provided for 1 hr, delivery (F2F, online), etc.

Business Model

The business model would quite simply to take a % of the time money sold for US$ (the system would allow users to prevent their issued time money to be put up for sale in US$ if they’d like to).

What a personal data currency may look like

I was challenged tonight in an email to explore where VRM and Open Money concepts may intersect.

Here are my notes:

  • To make personal data a currency, you would have to issue redeemable promises to deliver personal data to anyone “holding” the promise, say your location.
  • You may want to assign circulation rules to your currency so that it has no value outside of your social network (and you don’t end up being stalked by strangers).
  • Until redeemed by you the issuer, the currency could be exchanged for goods/services.
  • After redeeming the promise i.e. obtaining the data from the currency issuer, the promise would no longer have any value.
  • To have significant value, the currency would have to be issued by you (and ideally, certified by other parties).
  • You may want to provide foreign exchange services.

Of course, I haven’t answered the key question yet: why anyone would want to make their personal data a currency.

Using CommunityWay to save a local community service in San Francisco

Like many community services, Access SF, San Francisco public access station might close its doors because of a $500K budget cut.

I think Community Way might be a good model for them to raise these $500K. Here is how it would work:

  1. Access SF issues Access SF dollars.we could also call them vouchers or coupons
  2. Access SF negotiates with local businesses to get Access SF dollars accepted as payment for part of what is owned by customers. For instance: a local restaurant would accept 10% payment of the bill in Access SF dollars. Access SF explains that they will advertise Access SF dollars benefit on their channel and Web site, which will attract new business.
  3. Access SF sells Access SF dollars to SF residents on their Web site and at their office. These US dollars are used to fund the $500K.

Local businesses get advertising. Local residents get to support a community service without losing purchasing power. The community service gets its real dollars.

If Access SF sells $50 worth of Access SF dollars on average to 10,000 local residents, they’d get their $500K.

Twitternomics, the Twitter currency, and the monetization of Twitter

In my previous post, I argued that the ReTweet (RT) is the currency of Twitter. The rationale goes: When you RT, you extend or donate some of your reputation to the Twitter user who originally tweeted, and you should earn something for it, say some RT credits or possibly even some hard dollars. The service ReTweetRank, which ranks people according to how much their tweets are re-tweeted seems to follow the same line of thought:

Retweets are great indication of the originator’s topical influence and the audience’s interest.

There is a major issue with my argument though:  it’s not because I donate something to you, that it necessarily has value to you. It only does if you acknowledge so. We can assume it does since you are following the person, but that’s a quite rough estimate.

So, things are a little more complex and we have to dig a little deeper. It’s good to start with some Twitter economics or Twitternomics:

When you tweet (or re-tweet), you essentially donate to your audience a piece of information that you think has value to them. But only when your audience acknowledges your tweet’s value, you should earn something from them.

What are these acknowledgments:

  • The simplest form of acknowledgment is to spend the time to read the Tweet, but unfortunately that’s not trackable. The closest thing is to know which unique Tweets in the authenticated user’s friend timeline has been retrieved from Twitter, which is not easily trackable across all Twitter clients (except by Twitter themselves).
  • The next form of acknowledgment is to click on the link provided in the Tweet, if any. Normally these clicks would be hard to track, but since most Twitter users use URL shortening services like, the URL indirection provides a point of tracking how many did visit the URL. One problem is that it is difficult to track who actually clicked, but this could be easily resolved if Twitter or a Twitter intermediary was rewriting all the URLs to include the username of the authenticated user.
  • The next form of acknowledgment is the ReTweet.
  • The ultimate acknowledge is to make the Tweet a favorite. I put this one at the top because it is a persistent acknowledgment, not a transient acknowledgment like the RT or the URL click. But my guess is that it is also not as used as a RT simply because they don’t drive as much traffic (who tracks your favorite Tweets? not many people).

To come back to when you earn or when you spend Twitter credits or Tweetbucks or RT$:

  • you earn a credit when someone acknowledges your Tweet. Say, 1 Twitter cent for a view, 3 Twitter cents for a click, 5 Twitter cents for a RT and 8 Twitter cents for a fave. This isn’t too far from what I mentioned in last year post How to measure someone’s Whuffie.
  • conversely, you pay 1 Twitter cent for a view, 3 Twitter cents for a click, 5 Twitter cents for a RT and 8 Twitter cents for a fave. In other words, it costs you to be nice to others (giving attention or clicking buttons and writing things takes some of your valuable time indeed).
  • The ReTweet is a special case. If @a retweets @b (“RT @b check out this link”), it would make sense that any click on the link or further RT (“RT @a RT @b …”) should earn both @a and @b something. @a acts as a distribution channel and should take a share of the credits earned, say 50%.

So far, this is a zero sum game with funny money and no-one loses anything.

Just like RetweetRank, a list of the richest (in Twitter $) Twitter users could be compiled and people may start to compete for a better rank.

A simple business model might consist in providing a foreign exchange mechanism between Twitter $ and real U.S. dollars. Twitter users with positive balances would be able to offer their Twitter $ for sale, and Twitter users with negative balances would be able to offer to buy in U.S. dollars. Twitter would simply take a commission on the fee.

Of course, this isn’t incompatible with Twitter offering the possibility for users to pay for RTs rather than charge for them, as a way to provide additional incentives for users to RT.

“Please ReTweet”: RT as currency and Twitter social ad business model

There have been various discussions in 2008 about what business model Twitter should use to monetize its user base. I’m not aware of any that have considered how the Retweets (user’s re-posts of existing posts of users’ they follow) could be leveraged into a social ad platform.

Retweets are a powerful way for people to broaden the audience of their tweets beyond their immediate followers. Some people spontaneously retweet interesting tweets posted by others, but some users actually request others to retweet their posts. Every minute or so, there are several Twitter users asking their followers to “Please RT” a link they tweetted about, whether it is to promote an event, an widget, some marketing offer, or to find someone. Here are some recent examples:

DuongSheahan: It’s tonight! Christian Women Tweet Up 9pm EST Go here to register: (expand) #cwtu Please RT

RefugeesIntl: RT @deborah909 Please help me spread the word about this new widget for advocacy groups:

micaela6955: Win a $50 Pet GC at Please RT!

RT @shefinds: We need a NYC intern – please RT to anyone you know

Currently, when users kindly retweet these posts as requested by their sender, they do not earn anything, soft or hard dollar. A Retweet is essentially a favor you make to someone because you can and you want. This favor might be worth a lot, considering that many Twitter users have 1000s or 10,000s of followers.

One way that Twitter users could earn something would be through a favor  bank, or in this case a Retweet bank or Tweetbank for short. The concept of favor bank is not new (I love this one in particular). Paulo Coehlo even mentioned the concept in his book The Zahir.

Here is how it would work:

  • When you retweet, you are making a favor, and you earn Tweet credits in the amount of the number of followers you have.
  • When you are retweetted, you are using a favor, and you lose Tweet credits as were earned by those retwitting your post.
  • You can’t really go bankrupt here, although you could go deeply negative if you are highly retweetted, which should encourage you to pay back by retweetting others.
  • If you are retweetted a lot, this should prompt others to follow you, which would make your RTs more valuable and make it easier for you to track your “debt”.
  • If you are in debt, and don’t want to be anymore (although it has no real consequences for you), you might be tempted to spam your followers with a lot of RTs. That would be a very bad idea actually, since it would certainly tire your followers who will surely decide to not follow you anymore, making your RTs in turn less valuable and your debt harder to repay.

This would be a nice little game with no real financial consequence for either one. But it could be pushed a step further with some users actually deciding to incentivize RTs with actual U.S. dollars.

When you consider that an ad by The Deck displayed in a Twitterific client costs roughly 5 cents (based on their December 2008 statistics/pricing), some may think they deserve a share of the advertising they provide: after all, they generally retweet if they consider that the tweet is relevant to their audience. With a 5 cent per RT, if you only have 20 followers, your RT is worth $1, $100 for 2,000 followers and $500 for 10,000. Not pocket change for many.

The way it would work is that a user willing to pay for RTs would set a max $ budget for RTs payment. Other users retweetting would earn the same credits as above but redeemed in dollars for the exchange rate of say a few cents, with Twitter taking its share as well.

A really nice plus of this model is that it would allow Twitter to monetize its user activity on any client, whether Web, Desktop, Mobile, SMS, etc.