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Noppes

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Introduction

Noppes was the first and is one of the largest LETS in the Netherlands. Its users are inhabitants of the capital city, Amsterdam. Noppes is also the (plural) name of the currency central to the LETS 1.

Purpose

Noppes was launched with the aim to facilitate the sharing economy in Amsterdam. Using Noppes, citizens can exchange goods and services without spending legal tender. This contributes to improving the quality of the social relations among users and generates environmental benefits through second hand products being traded and their life extended.

Community Overview

In the city of Amsterdam counting over 750,000 inhabitants, about 500 are member of Noppes.

Organisation and History

After extensive research in the United Kingdom, STRO (then Strohalm) combined different models serving as a means of exchange and developed the ‘Noppes’. The model has since been copied in many other cities in the Netherlands. At the end of 1998 there were 1100 participants. Currently the member count is about 500. Membership of Noppes comes at a fee of € 25,- per annum.

Noppes is an association run by a board. In 1996, the organization expanded through state-subsidized employees. Since then, Noppes had a magazine and quarterly Noppes markets. As of 2011, Noppes lost its subsidy. The board continued unremunerated. Volunteers are rewarded in Noppes. The magazine was continued in digital form.

Noppes was set up in part to defy the logic of interest-bearing currency in the formal economy, following the Freigeldtheorie of Silvio Gesell. Users may spend more Noppes than they have, upon which they are credited by the system. This credit does not bear interest in Noppes.

Originally, it was intended to split the network when the threshold of 300 participants was surpassed. This was not done because it would have required the establishemnt of a new board and administartion, which was deemed undesirable. Also the idea of a ‘jubeldag’, ‘jubilee day’, on which day all accounts were to be set to 0 and start all anew, was never carried out. As an alternative, a form of demurrage was contemplated, but never tested.

Impact

A thesis on Noppes by the sociologist Henk-Jaap Batelaan [Batelaan, Henk-Jaap (1998), ‘De Vrije Markt van Noppes’, Amsterdam, UvA Scriptie Sociologie] revealed that the LETS market economy resembles the characteristics of the ordinary market economy. Those competent in the normal market economy, also possess most credits within the Noppes program and can spend them at will, whilst the unemployed were, and remained indebted. This implies that LETS like Noppes do little to achieve the purpose of alleviating poverty.

Currency Details

The electronic Noppes currency acts as a means of exchange and value measurement. In practice, one Nop is worth roughly one euro (but participants are free to determine prices).

The currency is backed by members pledging assets.

How it works?

Most activity takes place on the on-line marketplace where goods and services are offered or requested, expressed in a price in Noppes. Users make deals through the internal messaging system or by direct contact if they already know each other.

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