Talente Taauschkreis Voralberg (literally Talent Exchange Circle), is a time bank established in 1996 to strengthen community networks in the Voraldberg region in Austria. Talente (Tt), are essentially a mutual credit time currency with 100 Tts representing 1 hour of services.
In addition to the online time currency, Talente Vouchers were launched in 2008 following the success of the German Chiemgauer currency. The currency is backed by euros, and denominated both in Tt and Euro, the latter making it acceptable by businesses for its easy accounting (1 hour= 10€ leads to 1 € = 12 Talents). The Vouchers can be purchased for Euros but only businesses can redeem them back to Euros. Individuals can however redeem them for Talente, which are booked from the association’s account. With the influx of Euros, the Talente associations purchases regional products that are sold back for Talente, thus extending and diversifying the flows and production circuits.
Talente Taauschkreis Voralberg is one of the most successful and innovative grass-root currency systems existing nowadays. In November 2013 it had more than 760 members, comprising individuals, organisations and businesses. In 2011, the turnover in Talente was approximately of 30.000 hours.
Talente Taauschkreis Voralberg was established to support the local economy and improve and stengthen community relations among members. The Talente Voucher system was launched to increase the turnover as well as to grow the number of affiliated local businesses.
Vorarlberg is the westernmost federal state of Austria. It is the second smallest land both in terms of area and population (about 373,058 inhabitants), however it is amongst the most densely populated areas in Austria.
Vorarlberg borders with Germany (Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg), Switzerland (Graubünden and St. Gallen) and Liechtenstein. Vorarlberg is the only land in Austria where Austro-Bavarian is not the main language, but instead it is an Alemannic dialect that dominates. It therefore shares more cultural insights with its Alemannic-speaking neighbours of Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Gaermany, than with the rest of Austria.
Organisation and History
Talente Taauschkreis became a formal scheme after the Talente Taauschkreis Association and Co-operative were established, which provided the organisation with a solid legal structure. It took its original inspiration from the LETS systems of the 1980s and 90s but extended their concepts with the aim of serving a whole state and not just one local community and strongly incorporating businesses and other organisations.
Members of the association elect a new board and a Service Team of 25 members every two years; nine local organisers lead the work in various areas throughout Voraldberg. New team members receive training as well as a copy of the organisational handbook describing all key tasks. Members of the Service Team work 50% as volunteers and 50% for Talente. Noone is paid in euros. The network grew slowlys, from 95 members in 1997 to over 760 in 2011. The cooperative managing the Talente Vouchers is Allmenda eG, formerly known as Talente Genossenschaft.
a. The system in numbers:
In 2011, Talente Taauschkreis had over 760 participating members (individuals, local associations and businesses). Allmenda is present in 9 local areas within the region. The turnover in Talente was about 30.000 hours in the same year. The Talente Vouchers had an aggregate turnover of 1,2 M€ in 2011. If calculating the turnover of Talente at the set Euro-rate (1h=8,75 €) brings the total of Talente Vouchers used in Vorlarlberg to approximately 1.5 M€ per year.
b. Function and Unit of Account
Talente are a time unit of account (100Tt = 1 hour). For the double denomination/exchange rate between Euro and time, one hour was set at the purchasing power of 100 Austrian Schilling, which was equivalent to 7,25 € when the Euro first replaced the Schilling in 2001. In 2011 the same hour/purchasing power is at 8,75 € and this rate is going to change with the rate of inflation of the Euro (10 € in 2012). Participanting business can redeem Talente Vouchers back into euros at a certain loss (see below) or into Talente as electronic credits to spend in the exchange ring. [REF http://www.cloud-lab.criterical.net/talente-currencies-in-vorarlberg-austria/]
c. Issuance – Backing
The Talente circulates an both paper notes and electronic currency. Only the paper vouchers are backed by euro, can be bought for euro and exchanged back to euros by commercial entities, minus an “exit-fee” or malus.
d. Specific Attributes
The ”exit-fee” is basically an incentive not to exchange Talente Vouchers back to euros: the percentage varies between local producers (who pay 3%) and other businesses (that pay 7%). This only applies up to the first 7500 €. Hence those, like a shop that accumulate large amounts of Talente Vouchers, can redeem their additional Vouchers without loss which gives them further security for their financial planning.
e. Funding – Business Model
Membership fees are paid in euros and Talente to cover all running costs. Members with no time to exchange may pay in euros only to support the systems. All participants are obliged to pay tax on professional services offered in Talente but not informal exchanges. 2