Co-operative Exchange Token

“We believe in a fairer world in which wealth and resources are distributed to the people who need them rather than those best able to take them.

As Co-operative Technologists we aim to ensure that technology plays its part in creating a fairer world.“

I wholeheartedly agree with a) the stated value and b) the consequent aim. The next question, which I think @Graham was raising, is how. What can CoTech as a collaborative group actually do to achieve this aim? If wee can agree on how, then that plays into answers to the questions of how we organize ourselves and function as CoTech.

I have three inter-related proposals that I believe go a long way to addressing the aim, and that I would welcome as an integrated agenda topic:

  1. The development of a Co-operative Exchange Token, designed solely to support a co-operative economy and NOT tradable as a commodity nor offered as an ICO (and hence not so close to Boyd Cohen’s proposed Collabor8 token and ICO).

  2. The development of an inter co-op exchange platform, which is close to Boyd Cohen’s proposed Collabor8 platform

  3. The development of software to support a Distributed Autonomous Co-operative Organisation - DACO - amplifying the idea of a 1 Click Co-op. Again Boyd has similar thoughts along these, or parallel, lines.

All three could be built over a single integrated blockchain infrastructure - maybe Collabor8’s?

Collaboratively developing these as a shared open source project is, I recognise, a large undertaking, but many others are working along similar lines. So first we need to agree amongst ourselves what elements of these proposals we share and how they mesh with our individual priorities and available time, then we need to hook up with and collaborate with others beyond CoTech working along similar lines so that we can share code and not duplicate efforts.

Although the focus of this is wider than @BoydCohen’s, taking in co-operatives generally and the co-operative economy as a whole, rather than more specifically platform co-ops, there is clearly a great deal of overlap, so the two could be merged into a single agenda item (albeit a big one!)

Suggested title: Web 3.0 Infrastructure for a Co-operative Economy and a Fairer World

I’m in the process of writing a set of further notes on these (current word count c.1000), but I don’t seem able to persuade Google Docs (sorry!) to do more than put in single email addresses (is there one for this forum) and have not found how to add a doc here or find an appropriate place on the wiki. Advice welcome!


I’m not sure I understand the question, if you have an account on the wiki you can create as many pages as you want, simply search for the title of the page you want and click the “Create page” red link and then if you use “edit” rather than “edit source” you get the WYSIWYG editor and then you can copy and paste from a Google Docs page into the wiki and keep all the formatting.

The forum does have a email address, and a email to that address might create a new thread (or perhaps that setting isn’t on to prevent spam) — what is the email address for in this case?

Bullet point notes expanding on the Co-operatives Exchange Token idea are available on Google Docs (apologies!) at

Thanks @chris for the help. For now I’ve posted a link to the Google doc.
I don’t have an account on the wiki and I dodn’t find it obvious how to ask an admin to set one up. However I notice that Simon of Cetis is an admin so I’ll email and ask him to set me up. Then transfer form the Google doc to the wiki.

@Bill I have created a wiki account for you and you should have a email about it.

Many thanks @chris, although I await the email (Sunday 19:30)

It was sent to the email address you used to sign up here before I posted the above, you could try a password reset?

A little while ago I put an outline of the proposal for using blockchain to support the development of an monetarily independent co-operative economy to Ed Mayo at Co-ops UK. He thought it “visionary” and it subsequently got passed on to Pat Conaty whose views Ed respects, and is a researcher there (amongst other things). He’s done a lot of work on the co-op economy and co-op education, recently on Synergia - Towards the Next System: Transition to Co-operative Commonwealth.

I’ve now just had a very positive response from Pat who wants to set up a wider discussion on this and the Synergia course.

I have an updated version of the proposal (big picture rather than technical at this stage) at:

which I’d love to have the opportunity at WH to gather views on, constructive criticism, suggestions for further development of the ideas, implementation etc. So if you’re interested and able, please have a read before we gather.

It overlaps with a number of other possible topics, including the aims of CoTech, supporting new startups in the CoTech space, how CoTech could support other co-ops more generally, etc., and is itself multi-faceted, but any further discussion, both on and off the agenda would be very welcome and valuable at this point.

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Thanks for that Bill, I’m interested in a session on this.

I agree that the “capitalist economy is… driving the Earth’s terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems towards irrecoverable collapse” — humanity does appear, as a whole, to be committing planetary ecocide. I also agree with the strategy of attempting to build an alternative economy in the here and now.

I like these ideas / suggestions in your paper:

  1. “Co-X-op token should NOT function as a commodity to be bought and sold in currency markets”
  2. "In line with the non-commodity exchangeability of Co-X-op tokens, there should be no Initial Coin Offerings"
  3. Transparency: “all transactions can be attributed to named co-ops and co-op members”

I wonder if the token value could be linked to time worked? I know that time banking has been tried in the past but has never taken off on a large scale, but I very much like the idea of the value of the exchange medium being linked to time as we all have a finite amount, it is tangible and therefore easy to understand, it would also provide a low barrier to entry and crucially it would also provide a concrete method of comparing the token value with money.

In terms of the big picture — coming up with something that could eventually replace money, I recorded a great talk on this in 2009 by Raoul Victor at Oekonux 4, the raw audio was cleaned up by Lyn Garry and broadcast on her show, in a nut shell, Raoul was, in my view correctly, arguing that money will only cease to be used when it is no longer useful.

This section of your paper:

Learning from open source software and the maker movement, it is proposed that all innovation, but in particular that funded by the Co-operative Development Foundation, be available as Co-operative Commons. The Foundation would undertake the task of patenting or taking out Creative Commons licences. These would be available free to any co-operative, but licence fees would be required for use by for-profit private companies.

Is basically a proposal for a copyfarleft licence, see the Peer Production License and the Commons-Based Reciprocity Licenses pages from the P2P Foundation. I must admit that I’m yet to be convinced that this is a better idea than the enforced sharing inherent in copyleft, but I’d quite like to be…

My main concern with your proposal is that it is hard to see how it could get off the grounds without a large amount of capital to start with and since this isn’t something I have I therefore couldn’t help.

I’d be very interested in discussing the possibility of how we could, cheaply and quickly, try to get an alternative method of exchanging goods and services between CoTech co-ops off the ground.

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Speaking of an alternative method of exchanging goods and services between CoTech co-ops, is it even necessary to use blockchain technology?

Going back to an earlier time before time-bankng there were LETS schemes (Local Economic Trading Schemes?). The lessons learned were mainly that volunteer-based admin is painful, and some people accumulate currency - notably those higher-paid per hour (in the case of locally-based schemes mostly alternative therapists, etc, made worse by a lack of input from manual/technical workers). But it was effectively a money-free independent co-operative economy. They did develop software to do the numbers work, I remember some software made in Canada.

Perhaps it could work with a non-geographically ‘local’ group such as a co-operative of co-operatives which are all involved in the same kind of work, like CoTech. As a mechanism for one co-op to work with/for another, without money changing hands.

We’d have to check out how the tax authorities view this (they definitely DO have a view on it) and think about the difficult question of whether one hour’s of each person’s work is equal to another’s (maybe not?) We could deal with further complications slowly by consensus and maybe later ‘fold it’ into a later platform?

A minimum viable version could be simply deciding on a currency and an open book-keeping system for business in the sense of allowing exchange of contract and ‘payment’ between any 2 co-ops, perhaps?

Can we fork all this talk of alternate exchanges of value off into a different thread, It’s super off topic to the original post.

I’m struggling to see how a LETS-type model would work. I would only want to acquire currency (i.e. do work) if I knew that could spend it in a timely fashion, or be able to exchange for a more liquid currency.

Have you got more notes available on this yet?

If we could schedule a session on this on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon I’d like to come along. A project of this broad nature is what I think CoTech could/should be seeking to do in order to deliver on the promise of changing the world.

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@Bill I have split your posts on a co-operative exchange token (and the replies) into a new thread in the new Crypto category to make it easier to follow.

On the subject of token design it is important to understand the different functions and scopes.

If the intention is really exchange, and it should be, then the appropriate accounting is mutual credit, the same type used in LETS.

But sometimes exchange isn’t always possible. It means you can only admit people to the marketplace who can sell to the other members as much as they can buy. If traders aren’t buying and selling equal quantities then its not ‘exchange’, and some thing with commodity value is needed for surplus traders to take out of the marketplace and spend somewhere else.

It seems to me in these days of token-mania, that this issue needs to be much more widely understood! I have written a white paper showing how mutual credit systems could be scaled up infinitely, if exchange was really what the economy was for!

I have split The Credit Commons discussion into a separate thread, I hope that is OK.