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Community Exchange System

Community Exchange System, often referred to as CES, is a global digital complementary trading network. It is a community-based exchange system that provides an accounting system for its users to exchange their goods and services, both locally and remotely. Launched in South Africa in 2003 1, it can be seen as a version of Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS) or mutual credit systems, some of the CES community currencies operating as a timebank.

Apart from using information instead of material currencies to facilitate exchange, CES are community-focused in order to build community cohesion and keep wealth where it is created. The CES takes this a step further by providing the means for inter-community trading, right up to the global level.

There is a great variety of CESs, and they are growing in popularity throughout the world. Some use ‘hard’ currencies, where notes and coins are issued by the group for their own use; others use time as a ‘currency’ rather than notes; and yet others use a ‘virtual currency’ which is the recording of the values of goods and services exchanged.

To date (November 2013), there are 614 local CES system in 62 countries; more than 22,500 individual users: 720 community organisations and 1,020 business users. 2



  1. Community Exchange System official website, available at:
  2. M.Kennedy, B. Lietaer, J. Rogers (2012) People Money, the promise of regional currencies
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