Payments, payments

Hi all. I’ve been following the Bristol POund project for awhile, and in one place they say that Bristol, UK loses approximately 60 million GBP to payment gateways a year. Wow.

I have been thinking about the ways to develop a coop payment gateway that can be used by websites and apps, and even brick and mortar shops - in a way that would avoid sending money to Visa, Mastercard, paypal etc. Instead, the fees chargeable per transaction would go towards support and maintenance of the platform, and the surplus would go back to the communities/localities that helped earn it in the first place.

Specifically what needs to be supported, in my view, are the local projects that take a long time to mature. Examples would be: food forests, permaculture projects, reforesting, greening and cleaning. Much as we all depend on the health of the ecocsystems, and our actual survival depends on their survival, one wouldn’t know it from the headlines…

I thought his could be great fun to do. As far as I know, no solution of that kind exists (but if you know of any, let me know?). Most Fintech tends to be almost exclusively profit oriented, so to have a non-profit fintech project, worker +customer owned, and who returns the surplus to where it needs to be returned… that would be news.With some good marketing/sotrytelling, it could attract quite a following.

Of course, it is all very ambitious, but then, why not? It would be subject to financial regulations as well.

It would all be done as transparently as possible - with reports of where the funds come from, where they go, the biggest versus smallest salary ratio, the worker paygrade, profits, tax paid etc.
Would anybody be interested in brainstorming as to how a thing like this could be got off the ground?

Have fun…
Take care.
Ivana

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Hey Ivana, check out https://opencollective.com! Its a worker co-op itself and allows a lot of small groups to self-organise money without going through hell. You can use this thing called a “fiscal host” which is a helpful org that agrees to take on some of the bureaucracy for your org so you can just make the money move hands without much fuss. I know meet.coop are using this, we’re looking into at autonomic.zone and I believe there are folks from platform6.coop here (who do the fiscal host stuff!).

Competing with the likes of Visa and MasterCard sounds extremely challenging. (Those with long memories might recall that in it’s early days Visa was itself a sort of quasi-cooperative). Which is not to say that it’s not worth looking at developing cooperative fintech that can operate at some level within the food chain.
Certainly worth looking at Open Collective, which in essence provides a platform to enable groups with no legal entity or bank account to mange funds via a fiscal host (I’m part of platform6.coop which provides this service aimed at emerging cooperative projects).
Also worth looking at the Credit Commons and the work of Mutual Credit Services.
There’s also Faircoin - a green cooperative blockchain, and the Bank of the Commons.
Plenty to go at.

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I am aware of almost all of the platforms mentioned above, but none of them are payment gateways, or even e-wallets, that I could easily use on my website to be able to easily receive payments from customers - like webshops do. Unless they have changed since I looked at them the last time - which is possible. What about a coop version of the paypal? Something that would have a button that can be easily implemented on every website/app, and which would operate as a worker and customer cooperative. Or a coop version of Apple-pay?
Technology exists, the only thing that would be different would be the business model - instead of the surplus funds being directed to CEOs and shareholders, they could be directed to where they are needed most.
Easily said then done, sure. But every day that it is not done, the funds leave Bristol and go to San Francisco, and form there, probably straght to Cayman Islands. When there are so many things that this planet is crying out for… (and none of those things being super-yachts or space journeys)

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There was one:

But they closed a few years ago:

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I think the best bet is to be a crypto currency provider enabling organisations to accept a new coop coin as the infrastructure and overheads involved in being a card payment provider are extremely high.

Only hurdle I can see is the recent FCA requirement for crypto currency providers to be regulated.

A Co-operative ‘Stripe’ to benefit local commons would be a wonderful thing.

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Yeah, I’m aware that these projects aren’t replacements for a service like Paypal, but wanted to list them out (and there may be others), as items of interest in the broader landscape.

In order to get into making something like a cooperative stripe it is imperative to have scalability, something that most crypto projects fall over on pretty quickly. To my mind this would demand partnering with some significant players (maybe two or three of the big cooperative banks), which could also greatly ease the path to regulatory compliance.

Which in turn suggests perhaps a dual strategy: develop the tech and build a bottom-up network of coops that are committed to using it, and at the same time work to develop the strategic relationships with key partners that can deliver compliance, scale and credibility.

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I’ve never understood why UK banks are unable to accept payments into accounts via their websites — this isn’t the case in France, when you pay for things at gandi.net the shopping cart is all run from the Gandi infrastructure but you then land on their bank account site to enter your card details for payment, no third party is needed there, but for some reason a third party is needed in the UK? :man_shrugging:

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Lloyds Bank run their own card payment infrastructure (cardnet) and they offer it to businesses etc but I wouldn’t trust Lloyds as far as I could throw them

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Interesting, I assumed it was illegal in the UK or something… it’s a shame the Co-operative Bank (which of course isn’t an actual co-op :roll_eyes: ) or Unity Trust don’t provide a service like this…

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@earthling Some excellent points. :smiley:

For any local currency, there needs to be an emphasis on the Primary & Secondary industry sectors, as without those, you don’t have a viable economy.

I don’t need a website built every day, but i do like a bacon sandwich for breakfast. :smiley:

There was a local currency running in Deptford, that was accepted by one of the local cafes, but they still had to have a larger number of people paying in UK pounds, as otherwise they couldn’t pay their wholesale suppliers.

Some tradesfolk used the same local currency, but they had to have mixed payments, local-currency & UK pounds, as their suppliers didn’t accept the local currency, so they couldn’t pay for materials.

@Graham One route that would be worth chasing up, would be to contact ABCUL,

https://www.abcul.coop/home

as they have an existing network of FCA-Compliant Co-operatives, that are currently using Visa and Mastercard as their card payment system provider.

Provided that the new system could be added to their current payment rails, as another provider, then as they are already using multiple providers, then the new system could just be added to their current set-up.

This would also solve one of the Early-Adoption problems, as the new system would be integrated into an existing network, and would also solve the Incomplete Local-Economy problem. :smiley: .

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The other entity in the cooperative fintech landscape that I forgot to mention: https://coop.exchange

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Wouldn’t it just… I read somewhere that the payment gateway fees amount to a trillion dollars per year - imagine what could be done with just a small fraction of it in communities/localities that help earn those profits…

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Hah… it did exist… Would be nice to talk to people involved to see what could be learnt

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I believe Barclays run their own too, either way a coop alternative would be great, be interesting to see how this would be set up, I’m kind of a nerd for finance

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If it does happen, then it would need to start at the simplest possible approach, the simplest possible infrastructure that still does the job of allowing people to accept to payments p2p, or c2b? Then of course there is the issue of legal strctures required, or allowed… Can it be done Open Source? What sense would that make, considering that investments in money, time and energy are big. How to raise funds for it - so people who work on it get paid? How would you grow it as a network rather than a pyramid-like hierarchy? How would you do knowledge sharing? Or would you? And so many other things to consider… but … if we don’t even consider them, I know who does and will continue to do so, and we can sit and complain about fat cats all we like. The cats are only smirking and licking their whiskers…

Does anybody know anybody from BristolPound project? They had a Bristol Pay project in the pipeline, for which they had a supplier of technical solutions, but something seems to have thrown it off the path… Maybe they would be willing to share the experience or lessons learnt? I cannot find it on thier site now, but some time ago I read that they stopped their collaboration with Payji solution provider… Anyway, if anybody knows anybody, would people be interested in a call with representatives of this project, on jitsi or similar, to see what can be learnt?

I know that the original project was effectively shut down because the analysis showed, as is the case with most if not all of these local complementary currency projects, that it achieved very little. As I recall there has been work on redesigning something that may have had some impact, but as you say one of the partners in that has walked away, so I think it’s now defunct. My colleagues in Mutual Credit Services will know a bit more.

Local currencies do not appeal to me - for practical reasons, but a handy e-wallet, or payment platform, that returns the surplus to the communities that helped earn it… that could be very interesting