Changing the Culture & Currency of Commerce

Go Lean Commentary

Change is hard!

It does not just happen – in the positive direction – by itself. Someone (or some group) has to make it happen; they inspire it, communicate it and compel it to manifest. This is especially true of “commerce”.

noun 2. the exchange or buying and selling of commodities on a large scale involving transportation from place to place.
Usage example: a major center of commerce; interstate commerce

We want to change Caribbean commerce. We want to make it Bigger, Better and Faster.

  • Bigger – Yes, we want to go from local markets to a regional Single Market. Imagine all 30 Caribbean member-states with 42 million people and the potential to produce $800 Billion in GDP.
  • Better – Free Market would be better for Caribbean economics as opposed to the restricted controls of extreme socialism; think Cuba. Yet, many other member-states have policies and practices that are socialistic in their priorities; i.e. Antigua & Barbuda does NOT allow for private property ownership on Barbuda. (This smells like communism).
  • Faster – We want more and more electronic commerce options. This means a comprehensive Marketplace & Social Media ( plus the delivery-logistics options of the optimized Caribbean Postal Union (CPU), a subset of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU).

Forging change in Caribbean commerce will require a change in culture … and currency.

The current Caribbean culture for “commerce” is bad! A previous blog-commentary vividly described this definition of culture:

This definition of culture refers to community ethos; this is defined in the book Go Lean … Caribbean (Page 20) as …

… the fundamental character or spirit of a culture [group or community], the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; the dominant assumptions of a people or period.

Culture allows “you” to overcome obstacles; endure the heavy-lifting of a turn-around; invest in future success based on promising talents; stay the course of a roadmap, rather than “giving up” and fleeing for the appearance of greener pastures elsewhere. Culture dictates devoting “blood, sweat and tears” to a community cause, to give a full measure of devotion. We can learn so much by examining organizations and communities of great accomplishments.

In another previous blog-commentary, it was detailed how one Caribbean member-state, the US Virgin Islands, suffers from higher consumer prices due to the challenging logistics of island life … plus the bad community ethos of rent-seeking. So implementing an e-Commerce eco-system should have a positive impact on reducing the cost of living for all citizens.

The Caribbean currency also needs attention. For the 30 member-states in the region, there are many different currencies: local dollars (i.e. Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad), sub-regional dollars (Eastern Caribbean) and International Reserve monies (Euros and US dollars). The attention that the new Caribbean needs is a new currency for its commercial activities, especially e-Commerce.

Welcome to the Caribbean Dollar (C$).

As related in yet another previous blog-commentary

… the book Go Lean … Caribbean proposed a monetary-currency (Caribbean Dollar or C$) solution involving a cooperative of the Central Banks already in the region, dubbed the Caribbean Central Bank (CCB). …. There is already currency interdependence for many member-states [with the sub-regional currency and the International Reserve currencies]. …

Now, we can launch our own crypto-currency and electronic payments, clearing and settlements from this strong foundation. The missing ingredient, Trust, would be fulfilled.

Rolling out a regional currency will be a Big Idea and Big Undertaking. The book states (Page 127):

Currency Union / Single Currency
Apolitical technocratic monetary control, by the Caribbean Central Bank (CCB), and foreign trade with a globally respected currency allows for the methodical growth of the Caribbean economy without the risk of hyper-inflation and/or currency devaluations. The CU/CCB trades in Caribbean Dollars (C$) of which the currency’s reserves are a mixed-basket of strong foreign currencies: US Dollars, Euro, British Pound and Japanese Yen.

For us in the Caribbean to transform to a digital currency will require country-wide implementations. Fortunately, other countries have done this already … successfully. We would need to study (look, listen and learn) their experiences, good and bad. Consider the experience of the European country of Italy and their autonomous region/island of Sardinia:

VIDEO – Sardinia’s virtual currency –

CBS Sunday Morning
Published on Aug 6, 2017 – On the island of Sardinia, thousands of firms are not using traditional money to buy, sell, or pay salaries. They use Sardex, a virtual currency that allows businesses to earn and spend without relying on the Euro, or on banks that wouldn’t lend. Seth Doane reports on how the Mediterranean island is creating a new kind of wealth.

Subscribe to the “CBS Sunday Morning” Channel HERE:
Get more of “CBS Sunday Morning” HERE:
Follow “CBS Sunday Morning” on Instagram HERE:
Like “CBS Sunday Morning” on Facebook HERE:
Follow “CBS Sunday Morning” on Twitter HERE:
Get the latest news and best in original reporting from CBS News delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to newsletters HERE:
Get your news on the go! Download CBS News mobile apps HERE:
Get new episodes of shows you love across devices the next day, stream local news live, and watch full seasons of CBS fan favorites anytime, anywhere with CBS All Access. Try it free!

“CBS Sunday Morning” features stories on the arts, music, nature, entertainment, sports, history, science, Americana and highlights unique human accomplishments and achievements. Check local listings for CBS Sunday Morning broadcast times.


Title: Italy’s B2B cashless Sardex currency set to take on the world

Directors of Sardex, a regional mutual credit network encompassing several thousand small and medium-sized businesses on the Italian island of Sardinia, are thinking big — even globally — but moving cautiously.

By: Nils Zimmermann

The basic idea behind Sardinia’s business-to-business (B2B) electronic credit system is a simple one, even if its execution is somewhat more complex.

The country’s first regional currency, Sardex, gives several thousand participating small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) the opportunity to participate in a system of mutual credit and do business with other local companies.

Sardex’s business development team recruits a balanced portfolio of carefully screened Sardinian SMEs, such as electricians, plumbers, glaziers, carpenters, retailers, café owners, farmers, or small manufacturing businesses, to participate in the Sardex business network. Participating SMEs pay a flat annual fee to join. Once members, they gain access to new prospective customers and suppliers.

See the remaining of the article in the Appendix below.

The lessons-learned from the experiences of Sardinia are concise: currency and credit can be fostered regardless of the support of Big Banks or existing capital. This theme also aligns with previous Go Lean commentaries; see a sample list here: Two Pies: Economic Plan for a new Caribbean International efforts to de-Americanize the world’s economy Mitigating the Real Threat of Currency Assassins Industrial Reboot – Payment Cards 101 Leading with Money Matters – Almighty Dollar vs Caribbean Dollars Rebooting Caribbean Economics: The Quest for a ‘Single Currency’ Lessons from MetroCard – Model for the Caribbean Dollar The Future of Mobile Money Payment Systems

These previous commentaries all depict that it is conceivable, believable and achievable for the banking stakeholders in the Caribbean to deploy a new currency regime. In order to consider an e-Commerce culture, we must have the banking products in place … first. These innovations will bring so many benefits that we must embark on the roadmap to manifest these changes. We have already started … with the planning. Just notice these last 4 blog-commentaries published by the Go Lean movement:

Continuity of Business: Learning from Instagram’s system failures e-Commerce sites require good management to maintain systems up-time and to minimize downtime.
Wal-Mart now doing ‘Next Day’ deliveries Optimal logistics allow e-Commerce merchants to optimize the shopping experience.
Bad Ethos Retarding ‘New Commerce’ Bad government policy can curtail e-Commerce progress. For restaurants, a mandatory gratuity policy on take-out orders is just plain rent-seeking, a bad ethos.
Moving Forward with Transportation Solutions The Caribbean does not have the highway networks to facilitate cheap shipping options, but we can deploy a network of ferries in our Union Atlantic Turnpike scheme.

This commentary now – Culture and Currency – completes this series on the preparation for e-Commerce in the Caribbean. This whole collection depicts the heavy-lifting that regional stakeholders must do. Let’s lean-in for this effort. This is how we can make our homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

About the Book
The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society.

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Who We Are
The movement behind the Go Lean book – a non-partisan, apolitical, religiously-neutral Community Development Foundation chartered for the purpose of empowering and re-booting economic engines – stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 13):

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix – Italy‘s B2B cashless Sardex currency set to take on the world Cont’d

Marketing help
All Sardex members have access to a searchable database of all the network’s members. They can post trade offers on Sardex’s web platform, and they’re encouraged to look for business opportunities within the network. Many join WhatsApp or Telegram groups comprising hundreds of members, to stay in touch and make each other aware of offers.

In addition, Sardex employs deal brokers whose job is to identify possible trading opportunities within the network. The brokers call up business owners to suggest deals, for example, by proposing plumbers, electricians, and builders they could cooperate with on a local construction project.

New business
“The point of Sardex is to facilitate new sales that would otherwise not occur, and make use of idle capacity,” said Giovanni Dini, who works on Sardex’s research and development team. “By joining Sardex, a participating SME should see growth in its transaction volume with other Sardinian businesses.”

Each new member’s annual fee is individually negotiated, and amounts to a small fraction of its estimated underutilized business capacity.

A mutual credit club
Members avoid paying each other for goods and services through normal financial channels. Instead of using cash, bank transfer, or standard credit cards to settle transactions, the euro-denominated amount (1 SRD equals €1, $1.16) can be recorded as a debt the buyer owes the Sardex network, not the seller. The seller, in turn, records a credit to their Sardex account. This credit is, in effect, a debt owed by Sardex to the seller.

In this way, Sardex members can buy and sell from each other even if they’re cash-strapped, or have difficulty gaining bank credit. As an added benefit, there is no interest charged or paid on Sardex account balances.

Participants are expected to keep their Sardex account level within individually agreed maximum credit or debt levels —usually a few thousand Euros. Members must buy as well as sell, and the net amount of credit or debt on purchases and sales made on their Sardex account should net to zero over the course of a year.

Limits on transaction volume
There are limits to the volume of trade a Sardex member can or should do, as a proportion of its total business volume. “We recommend no more than 30 percent of the total,” Dini told DW. “Most of that should be additional transactions, i.e., sales that would not have been made if the business hadn’t been a member of the Sardex network.”

A key reason for the 30 percent limit: Value-added taxes continue to be due on all transactions, and taxes are only payable in conventional bank Euros or in cash. If a business were to do 100 percent of its trade in Sardex credits, it would end up owing a lot of Euros to the Italian treasury, but would have no Euros in the bank to pay its taxes.

Tourism, construction and retail are among the sectors most active within the network.

Growing business volume
Dini said the total volume of business in Sardex credits transacted on Sardinia in 2016 was just over €67 million ($87 million). In 2017, it was nearly €81 million.

Those numbers don’t include transactions in 11 additional regions of Italy where Sardex has initiatied B2B credit clubs within the past couple of years, all of them using the same web- and app-based credit circuit technology platform Sardex developed for Sardinia, but each running its own separate regional B2B credit circuit. Veneto, Marche, and Lombardy are among the 11 regions.

“We’re looking at enabling interregional trade as well, i.e., transactions between credit circuit members from different regions,” Dini said.

“We have to be careful,” Dini added, “our top priority is increasing within-region trade. Sardex was founded as an instrument to stimulate jobs and trade within Sardinia, one of Italy’s economically depressed regions. If we open interregional trade too much, we’ll end up reproducing the same imbalances in trading relationships that already exist, with some regions being big net exporters and others running up debts as net importers.”

Is small beautiful?
In each region, Sardex has partnered with a local entrepreneur to run credit-club recruitment and operations. Transaction volumes outside Sardinia totalled €14 million in 2016; they nearly doubled to €26 million in 2017.

Given that Italy’s GDP in 2017 was about €1.72 trillion, these numbers are tiny in comparison. But members of one of these regional B2B credit clubs can see meaningful benefits at their own scale of activity, for example, a tradesman or tour operator might see an extra €30,000 a year in transactions.

Sardex had signed up a total of 3,896 SMEs as full members as of June 2018. The total SME membership for all 12 regional networks was 8,512. After Sardex, the top three regional networks at present are Marchex with 1,010 B2B members (2013 start), Linx with 894 (2015 start), and Venetex with 514 members (2016 start), respectively in the Marche, Lombardy and Veneto regions.

National and international interest
The Sardex model has been successful enough that it has attracted attention from all over Europe, and even beyond: “We’ve had non-government organisations, entrepreneurs, regional and municipal governments, and even one national government come to us and express interest in setting up a mutual credit network using our platform,” Dini said.

But Sardex’s founders and managers are moving carefully, to avoid over-extending their capacities, and to ensure that they have thoroughly worked out all aspects of the business on Sardinia first, the researcher and developer added.

The importance of the man on the ground
Some of the regional credit circuits Sardex has set up with partners in other regions are doing better than others. According to Dini, the most progress has been made in Italian regions which are already relatively prosperous, such as the Veneto and Marche regions.

Factors driving a regional network’s success, according to Dini, include, “the skill of the partner team on the ground, their dedication, and their luck. They need a good pitch for recruiting new members, they need to know their territory well, they need good salespeople.”

In addition, it makes a difference how big a region’s pool of SMEs is, Lombardy or Veneto have multiple times more businesses than Sardinia or other southern Italian regions, which makes member recruitment easier.

“The online credit circuit platform itself is only one element for building a successful mutual credit network,” Dini emphasised. “Going out and recruiting new members face-to-face, teaching them how to use the platform effectively, providing effective deal-brokerage services — these are essential too.”

Sardex has indicated it’s in touch with entrepreneurs in Germany and elsewhere to discuss the possibility of setting up a regional B2B credit circuit there as well, and the company hopes to be able to announce its first step beyond Italy sometime in early 2019.

“We’re seeing that our B2B credit circuit model is interesting to entrepreneurs in prosperous regions too, not only to businesses in economically depressed regions.”

Source: Deutsche Welle – German Business News Site – Posted September 5, 2018; retrieved May 25, 2019 from:


Read more: Sardex: a model B2B credit club gives hope to Italy’s SMEs

Share this post:
, , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *