We just released the PR for BarCampBankSF2. Please re-blog, re-twit, re-send, …

Dear Innovators,

It’s been a year since we had the first BarCampBankSF at the UC Berkeley campus — and given the current state of the economy, the collapse of the stock markets, the credit crunch hitting the global markets and the issuing severe slowdown of activity — the timing couldn’t be better for a second BarCampBankSF.

BarCampBank aims at bringing together the Bay Area’s smartest technologists and industry insiders from all over the world for a great day of networking to discuss the impact of emerging technologies in the Banking and Financial Services space. BarCampBankers will present projects, confront ideas and participate in lively conversations around the innovations in the Banking and Finance world. If you are an innovator, a technology disruptor or a professional in the banking and finance industry we’d love to have you join the debate and share in the experience.

We believe that innovation happens in any economy. We’d love to hear your ideas and share how your organization or institution is doing to ease the financial mess we are in right now.


The BarCampBankSF Team.

More info and the wiki for the event can be found at
Registration takes place on eventbrite:

Hayes Valley Money (report from the field) and Play it Forward Akoha cards

Hayes Valley Money

From wikipedia:

Hayes Valley is a neighborhood in San Francisco, California, between the historical districts of Alamo Square and Civic Center. Victorian, Queen Anne, and Edwardian townhouses rub shoulders with boutiques, restaurants, and public housing complexes.

In November 2008, to fight a worsening recession, Hayes Valley started to print their own money with the Hayes Valley Money rewards program. Here’s how it works:

shop at any participating merchant for a chance to win a Hayes Valley Money card good for $5, $10, or even $20! You can use your reward card in the shop where you got it or at any other participating store. Just look for the “money card participating merchant” signs in store windows or refer to the list below. Hayes Valley Money rewards cards are good for 30 days

This is currently a very low-tech endeavor: to prevent forgery, the money cards are signed by hand by each merchant at the time they are given to customers, together with the expiration date. “We are currently 16 merchants participating in this program and we all know each other, so it would be very hard for someone to forge” explains Russell Pritchard of the Hayes Valley Merchants Associaton.

Russell explained that so far, he has been a bit disappointed by the number of merchants joining the initiative (16 so far), but he has been really encouraged by the reception from customers. So far, out of the 30-40 rewards he has given out, only several came back from other merchants, most likely because people haven’t used them. He may typically give a $10 reward for a $100+ purchase and may a $20 reward for a $200-500 purchase. But he said, and this is interesting, that it happened that he actually gave away some of them to some people he knows shop locally or were considering buying a piece of his store.

From a “backend” standpoint, the rebate collected by merchants are simply counted and returned to the issuing merchant. Rusell acknowledged that the easy-to-setup adoption of a paper/signature-based system has drawbacks in terms of tracking and clearing between merchants, but it’s a start.

Russell hopes that this initiative will be duplicated all over the city with the support of the city of San Francisco. He personally handed a rebate card to mayor Gavin Newsome, who has been personally supporting local shopping during the holiday season, and recently reminded him that he hadn’t used it yet.

My comment

Because the rebate issued is not re-circulated after it has been used once, we cannot strictly talk about a currency (currency comes from current, something that flows). In the current model, merchants are essentially injecting their own money into the neighborhood, creating an incentive for visitors to shop at more than one store in the neighborhood in a short period of time. I suspect this model might lead some of them to think that they might give more than others do.

The next step in my opinion would be to move to a real currency model where received rebates could be used by businesses to trade with one another. In this scenario, the rebates received by a merchant would not be returned to the issuing merchant, but simply used to trade with another merchant. It might not make sense in a community of 16 merchants, but if the community is big enough and involve a wide variety of business types, it will.

Still, there would be something missing in this model: no community value would be created. One way of doing so would be for merchants to donate some of their rebate cards to local community services that would be then use them to fund their activities by using them, or reselling them for hard dollars to local residents willing to make a donation, but without losing purchasing power.

Parallel with Play it foward Akoha cards

A tweet from @akoka picked my attention today. The original idea is for customers to thank each other with rewards cards and propagate good karma, but there is a possible connection between the Hayes Valley Money rebate cards and Akoha cards: stores could easily leverage the Akoha awesome tracking infrastructure to print cards, hand them out to customers, track through which users and which merchants they have been through.

If the merchants themselves play them forward, until the cards they issued are returned to them, as I suggested above, they could effectively measure how many transactions they have incentivized through their rebate cards.

Last, merchants could also easily connect with customers without ever asking them their email or contact information, since Akoha users typically register the card on their Web site to keep a tally of karma points they have accumulated by passing the card along.

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.