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The is a business to business clearing system that uses the Sardex as a complementary currency for transactions. This example of trade exchange (also known as barter exchange) was launched in 2009 in Sardinia, Italy, as a way to revitalise local economic activity during the financial crisis.

Purpose was introduced as a means to facilitate economic transactions and create new economic opportunities between local enterprises that were heavily affected by the financial crisis 1. In practice, offers new ways to increase an SME’s turnover as well as save Euros.

Community Overview

Sardinia is the second biggest island in the Mediterranean with a population of 1.6 million. The population is almost entirely of Italian nationality with 6 official languages. The GDP per capita is 20,000 Euros.

Organisation is a private liability company launched by four entrepreneurs who first researched the best practices of barter exchanges throughout Europe.

Currency Details

The Sardex in numbers

As of May 2012, there were 650 SMEs taking part of and generating 800 transactions in the first quarter of that year 2. In that time, the dropout rate accounted to 5% (Ibid).

By late September 2013 there were 1300 participating SMEs and exchanges amounting to 10 million Sardex have been recorded for the calendar year.

Function and Unit of Account

The main function of Sardex is to act as a medium of exchange. Its unit of account is the euro meaning that one Sardex has the same purchasing power as one euro.

Issuance – Backing

The Sardex operates exclusively as an electronic currency. It can be earned and spent by participating SMEs via the exchange of goods and services taking place in the online marketplace. Although its value is at par with the Euro (1Sardex has the purchasing power of 1 Euro), Sardex cannot be converted into Euros and does not represent “real” Euros. All transactions are tracked in the online account of participating firms.

How it works?

In every enrolled SME determines, on a yearly basis, the amount of goods or services to make available to the exchange network. When in need of goods or services, firms can contact each other directly via the online marketplace or discuss the trade opportunities with a broker. After a transaction has taken place, the online account of the seller receives the Sardex corresponding to what was agreed with the buyer for the good or service exchanged.

In Systems of that kind, typically the exchange operator, here, determines credit lines for all individual participants, which than can be accessed similarly to an overdraft facility on a standard bank account. Terms and conditions apply for businesses with a negative balance when they want to leave the network.

See also

Complementary currency

Barter exchange

Trade exchange

Electronic currency



  1. Melis, C., A. Dettori, E. Giudici, (2013) “Revitalizing the Barter: The Case of” in P. Spagnoletti (ed.), Organizational Change and Information Systems, Springer-Verlag: Berlin Heidelberg 
  2. Melis, C., A. Dettori, E. Giudici, (2013) “Revitalizing the Barter: The Case of” in P. Spagnoletti (ed.), Organizational Change and Information Systems, Springer-Verlag: Berlin Heidelberg
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