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Yuri Yerofeyev, founder of Taurus Exchange says, “Cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, have turned upside down the way I think about the world.”  To understand Bitcoins and why they are popular, Yuri says that you need to look at things from a global perspective. 

Bitcoin came to be during the financial crisis of 2008 when, after losing their assets, people started questioning the existing monetary order.  The realization that all the money is controlled by a handful of moguls gave rise to a plethora of writers, bloggers and journalists who focused on exposing the unsustainable financial system we live in; and a group of programmers worked to create a new way to transmit value from one person to another.  Yuri says, “ Enter Bitcoin, a decentralized peer-to-peer value transmission protocol that doesn't depend on any central bank or government.”

Yuri learned about Bitcoins by reading the white paper published in 2012.  He started trading as a hobby and co-founded The Bitcoin Co-op, a non-profit organization whose main goal was to educate individuals and businesses about the benefits of using Bitcoin in their daily lives.  Today he runs Canada's first fee-free bitcoin exchange called Taurus.

Here is how it works:  if you want to exchange Canadian dollars for bitcoins, you place an order and wait for a match to occur.  You can also match your bid with an existing asking order for an instant trade.  He says that while bitcoin payments are automated and easy to set up, the main challenge is the ability to provide quick and reliable funding methods on the Canadian dollar side of the deal.  Thus, most customer requests have to do with money transfers, especially when it comes to fast payment processing and alternative options.

Bitcoin is still in its infancy and can be compared to the Internet as it was in 1994.  Yuri says that bitcoin transactions are not anonymous and there are complex issues, such as scalability and financial privacy, that need to be addressed.  While there are a growing number of financial institutions and venture capitalists interested in the advantages of the "blockchain technology" considered to be un-hackable, it doesn't always mean they are into Bitcoin itself.

He feels that financial institutions like CCEC can benefit from this new technology if used for transactions, record keeping, notarization services and smart self-executing financial contracts.  He says, “Imagine a credit union that is free of human error and whose cash flow is fully automated, transparent and incorruptible.”  As the industry develops new opportunities appear including remittance, instant global payments, point-of-sale systems and derivatives markets.  While admitting that another challenge may come from the financial regulators, his hope, however, is that no significant changes are made in the law and this segment of the market will remain truly free.

Why I belong to CCEC: “One of the most important moving parts in running a cryptocurrency exchange is solid banking relationship.  CCEC is one of the few financial institutions that recognize the potential of cryptocurrencies.  The credit union's board is open-minded  and forward-thinking.  CCEC is leading the Vancouver financial space when it comes to promoting and educating people about the peer-to-peer economy, decentralization and personal freedom.”  Yuri Yerofeyev, founder of Taurus Exchange

Contact Yuri at to yuri@taurusexchange.com or visit Taurus Exchange 

Read more about alternative currencies in a previous blog:  Digital Darwinism Bridges the Gap Between Community and Finance 

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What better way to connect with neighbourhours than supporting start-up enterprises?  Vancouver SOUP differs from online crowdfunding in that it is in person.  People come together, share an evening of food and fun, while supporting projects happening in their community.  The audience, who are the ‘investors’, hear four project pitches and the ‘winner’ leaves with the door proceeds.  This is building community and CCEC is proud to partner with Groundswell as a sponsor on their new project.

To volunteer, make SOUP, donate bread email vancouversoup@gmail.com

Vancouver SOUP is based on the successful Detroit SOUP.   The organizers see this project as a unique opportunity for Vancouverites to connect with each other in an easy, fun, delicious way.  Vancouver is known as an unfriendly city where people feel disconnected from their neighbours and their community.  The Vancouver SOUP Team feel that the problem that part of the problem can be solved by getting together with people over meaningful conversation or projects like weeding a shared garden, serving on a committee, or even deciding which community-building project to support.  Vancouver SOUP can be that project.  Kerrie says, “I have lived in many apartment buildings where people barely make eye contact crossing paths in the hallway.  Conversations are mere pleasantries.”  By attending a Vancouver SOUP event, people are launched into meaningful conversation about projects that could affect their lives.  They are all in it together .

The first Vancouver SOUP held in September was sold out with over 70 people who donated almost $800.00.  Kerrie O’Donnell, Project Di

rector says, “While online crowdfunding might raise more money, it doesn’t bring the community and investors together.  We, you and I, are the investors.”

The winner at the first event was Magpie’s Nest Community Art Space with their Community Art Nights where they offer free space and materials for the public to come together over art.  The audience of ‘investors’ also heard pitches about launching a Zero Waste Club, starting community dialog events centered around the ‘Talking Chairs’, and harm reduction for nightlife and music festival communities

At the second Vancouver SOUP, held on November 19th, 55 people donated $550 and voted The Binners’ Project the winner.  The Binners’ Project creates jobs for people collecting redeemable containers and reduces waste being sent to landfills.  At the event, Director Anna Godefroy explained that the money will go toward a new initiative called the Binners’ Box - where a dedicated box will be set up in laneways of buildings and housing complexes, allowing residents or businesses to place recyclable products with a deposit in the Binner Box, for a local binner to pick up.  Keep an eye out for the testing phase of this project in the Downtown East Side soon!

Vancouver SOUP is a crowdfunding event, where the ‘crowd’ is the audience who contribute at the door.  Vancouver SOUP is different from online crowdfunding is that it is in person.  Kerries says, “We envision Vancouver as a friendly city where people feel connected to their neighbours. We see a community where people support each other in finding solutions and neighbours help each other and participate in projects that better their community.  Vancouver SOUP is a place where Vancouverites can come together and leave feeling more connected to their community and perhaps they even leave with new friends.” 

Vancouver SOUP is currently held in the Downtown East Side at Groundswell Café as a ‘city-wide SOUP’.  The organizers see the SOUP appeal growing and aim to draw projects and ‘investors’ from all over the city as a larger crowd will raise more money for the winning project.  At the same time, they recognize that each neighbourhood has its own character, and they are open to helping other neighbourhoods setup their own SOUP events.

Kerries says, “Each Vancouver SOUP event is a little different, mostly because the people pitching their ideas aiming to win the crowd’s money are different.  There are new ideas to make our fine city a better place each at each event.”

Thank you Vancouver, for showing us SOUP love!

For more information, to get involved or to host a Vancouver SOUP event contact:

Kerrie O'Donnell, Project Director, Vancouver SOUP

 

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The New Economy – still mostly a concept, lots of people have a different vision for the kind of economic environment we are all moving into.  What was the vision for the Impact Economy Whistler, event held in October attended by CCEC Board Members, Tammy Lee Meyer and Marty Frost?  If there was a common word that could be applied to all the visions that were present, it would be “open” as in “open-source” technology - hardware and software; and “open value networks” as a way of organizing groups of people who choose to work together. 

The people who showed up all saw themselves of members of an emerging economy.  They were computer software and hardware engineers, community developers, co-op advocates.  And if there was a common word that could be applied to all the vision that was present, it would be “open”.  The computer people were all working on developing new generations of computer operating systems, applications, communication protocols and hardware, all open source.  Open Source is a concept applied to developments (computer hardware and software primarily at this point) that have no ownership applied to them.  A piece of open source software, for example, carries no license, no proprietary rights attached to it.  Anyone has a right to download a piece of open source software, modify it and put it back up on line for open sharing.  The same principles are being applied to hardware as well. 

Some of those present were also employing “open value networks” as their form of organization.  No incorporation, no legal “rights of a natural person” applied.  Simply a group of people who choose to work together, share projects, share any resulting revenue that may be produced, well, openly.  A couple of examples that people may wish to check out on line would be Sensorica, in Montreal (www.sensorica.co), or 99% Media, also in Montreal ( www.99media.org). Neither has a legal structure, they are networks of workers who get together on a project-by-project basis, and share facilities, tools and revenue. 

The other significant “group” of people were the community development folks, most of whom are involved with local, non-State currencies.  Among these was BC’s own Michael Linton, founder of the LETS system that some of us will remember from its 40 year or so history in and around the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  The Mutual Aid Network was represented as well, and profiled for us their highly successful time-banking system they have developed under a co-op umbrella in Madison Wisconsin.  Time-banking is in some ways another form of local currency, certainly a local trading system. (www.mutualaidnetwork.org)

In this video podcast, Michel Bauwens chats with Art Brock, Michael Linton, and Matthew Slater about money and new currencies: accounting systems, "open money", current-sees, exchange in the post-monetary economy, trust, and value exchanges.

Is this to be an aspect of the “New Economy”?  An escape from individual ownership – or any form of ownership at all – into an economic paradigm based on sharing?  If you have a need it will be there for you, if you have something to offer you have ways to offer it, and all free of state-based currency transactions?  To people like me, who has spent most of my life assisting people to work in more sharing – but certainly “legally” structured – forms of economic relationships, it raises all sorts of questions:  how scalable can these organizations be?  How are disputes – those that are now “settled” through the market – be settled?  how would “value” of goods and services be determined?  These are questions that need to be answered as we move forward.  For my part I am thankful that there are people out there who have the passion and nerve to just get out there and do it.  Test these models in the crucible of the capitalist economy in which we live, find the challenges and develop solutions. 

Marty Frost

For more information: 

http://www.impacteconomy.io  and other podcasts  https://soundcloud.com/impact-economy

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A CCEC member goes beyond the Forbes top 15 Fintech startups to watch for this year.  CrowdGIFT is a values based crowdfunding platform with a philosophy of unconditional generosity.  Their clients tend to be groups with a mandate for social responsibility or political justice.    So, who uses CrowdGIFT?  Turns out our CCEC members do! 

Ben West (TankerFreeBC, the Great Climate Race) worked with CrowdGIFT to sell his book on Fossil Fuel and more recently to fundraise for the Great Climate Race .  Last month we featured The Decentralized Dance Party ,  who also uses this platform.  Why this platform and not the others?  And why enter a market that seeds to be crowded?

Scott Nelson, a Director for CrowdGIFT says, “We are living in interesting times as we are in a world where there is dissatisfaction with the current crowdfunding platforms and a general dissatisfaction with our mainstream banks.”  The better known crowdfunding models are exclusive, use Paypal or other ‘invasion oriented’ payment methods, and the campaigner is penalized with higher service fees or non-payment if you don’t reach your target.

A key differentiator with CrowdGIFT is their use of digital currencies.  Scott says, “People have the right to economic privacy.”  As our foundation is unconditional generosity this includes anonymity and privacy for the gifter.  He believes in digital currencies for two main reasons:  they operate on the principles of decentralization, where no one is a controlling agency as is the case with our current paper money; and privacy.  Read more about digital currencies in the blog (insert link).  Scott has been a strong advocate for digital currencies since 2010 which is aligned in his following of Austrian Economics.  The quote from Julian Assange (Wikileaks) rings true for him,

 “Transparency for the powerful, privacy for the weak.”

Scott sees crowdfunding as an expanding market as more fundraising will go this way.  CrowdGIFT is about showcasing generosity. 

There are five key reasons to choose CrowdGIFT:

1.       We never hold your funds. All contributions flow straight through to you, almost instantly.

2.       You keep all funds you receive, whether you meet your funding goal or not.

3.       Our "offline direct payment" option allows your supporters to give via cash, wire transfer, money order or any other method you can figure out. This offers greater privacy and eliminates PayPal and credit card processing fees.

4.       You can easily accept modern digital currencies including Bitcoin, Dash, Litecoin, as well as Dogecoin.

5.       With crowdgift.ca, you choose how much to gift back for our service: anywhere from 0% to 20%.

So, what’s next for Scott?  While currently he is playing in the field of converging technologies:  web, mobile and alternate currencies, he sees the next wave as machine learning and its’ application to personal growth and development. 

For more information visit https://crowdgift.ca/
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Is bitcoin the future of money, privacy and payments, the end of greedy banks and the fall of government fiat currencies; or is it an elaborate scam, the currency of cyber villains, and a threat to sovereign states?  

Drew of BitNational, a CCEC Member, says: “We all cherish money deeply, but most don’t truly understand what it is or from where its value is derived. Researching bitcoin and cryptocurrencies enables you to understand a lot more about how fractional reserve banking and quantitative easing only benefit the extremely wealthy, while constantly devaluing every dollar you earn. Bitcoin is honest and transparent at the lowest level.”   

Could bitcoin prevent a future global currency crisis like the ongoing Greek example? Earlier this year, there was a freeze imposed on fund transfers out of Greece and a daily limit placed on how many Euros that Greeks could withdraw from their own bank accounts. If all Greeks used bitcoin, their funds could not be frozen or rationed. We know that Fort Knox doesn’t have enough gold to support the paper currency in circulation, and lots of people are unaware that gold has not been tied to fiat currency since 1971. Is bitcoin, a currency created by the people for the people, the answer?

Bitcoin is not an easy concept to grasp, but at the moment, it’s the only currency without borders. There are many people who are now buying bitcoin in an attempt to learn more about digital currencies that are, for the most part, completely misunderstood.  According to Drew, of the DDP & BitNational, “People are infatuated with saving money, but they don’t really know what it is. The ‘money’ in bitcoin is stored fully in your control, on your cellular phone, in paper (cold storage) wallets, and now many hardware wallets are also coming into the market. There are however still risks in this fledgling industry, if you don’t know what you are doing. For example, the ‘address’ you use to transfer bitcoin must be correct or your funds could be sent to a different person and not returned. Bitcoin is a push system, rather than a pull system like credit cards and traditional banking. You are in full control of your money, if you want to be.” 

So, how are businesses using bitcoins? CCEC Member, the Decentralized Dance Party (link to blog) is selling “Peace Bonds”, exclusively using decentralized currencies, such as bitcoin, to complete The Global Party Pandemic AKA The Grand Unification Tour. The DDP’s recent European Tour was 100% financed by crowdfunding (see blog article on CrowdGIFT) using bitcoin.

So, how does it work? It is said that the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin could be a game-changer in the world of finance. It is virtually unhackable. The blockchain is the systematic ledger that keeps track of all bitcoin transactions. It can never be erased and is constantly growing as more transactions are added in chronological order. Because blockchain technology appears to remove the need for the middlemen of finance — banks, governments, notaries and even paper currency — it is thought that its system of decentralized consensus could be applied elsewhere. "Think about digital signatures, digital contracts, digital keys [to physical locks, or to online lockers], digital ownership of physical assets such as cars and houses, digital stocks and bonds and digital money," noted venture capitalist and bitcoin booster Marc Andreessen in a 2014 op-ed for The New York Times. He continues, "All these are exchanged through a distributed network of trust that does not require or rely upon a central intermediary, like a bank or broker."

Drew wants CCEC Members and their peers to be open to change. He says, “We all know that something is wrong with the current system and that we need to do something. Bitcoin is honest money… We all need to take more control of our finances and put in the effort to understand money. People don’t realize the power that they hold, and they need to understand that they can truly vote with their money.”

BitNational currently has 13 Bitcoin ATMs in Canada, 6 in Waves Coffee Houses in Vancouver and due to consistent transaction growth, will be expanding aggressively in the coming months.

For more information visit bitnational.com, bitcoin.org OR coinmarketcap.org

CCEC will be featuring more articles on decentralized currencies and bitcoin. Be sure to leave your comments on our Blog.

Contact Drew: drew@bitnational.com

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The Ministry of Finance is now reviewing credit union legislation, a process that will proceed over the next year.  Every ten years there is a review and consequently an opportunity to think critically about how financial services are regulated.  In BC, the two principal statutes are the Financial Institutions Act and the Credit Union Incorporation Act.

The last decade has seen some big changes in technology and also in the way international banks are regulated. Technology has changed the way credit unions do business (new service channels online, and mobile), process transactions (paperless payments), and communicate generally.  In addition, technology has introduced a host of new non-traditional service providers; virtual banks, online lenders, private payment services, digital currencies, and more. The failure of some large banks has prompted scrutiny of large scale financial engineering arrangements and of the role of regulators.

CCEC has made a submission to the Ministry in September that attempts to ensure the potential for communities to continue to organize and provide themselves with financial services; using the co-operative model. CCEC is vocal in asserting that the credit union model, at the local level, is to be facilitated and not burdened with regulation. CCEC substantially endorses a consistent legal framework for all credit unions with transparency and accountability among the government authorities.    

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The prevalent economic development practice is ineffective, unaffordable and in need of a makeover.  In his book, The Local Economy Solution, Michael Shuman suggests an alternative where cities nurture a new generation of enterprises that help local businesses launch and grow.  These “pollinator businesses,” create jobs and the conditions for economic growth, and are doing so in self-financing ways.

Two years ago, CCEC partnered with like-minded organizations to present a conversation with Michael Shuman speaking to his book, “Local Dollars, Local Sense – How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street”See the blog   So, what's new? 

In his new book, he says, “A growing number of small, private businesses are facilitating local planning and placemaking, nurturing local entrepreneurs, helping local consumers buy local and local investors finance local business."  These functions are performed by “pollinators”.  They are locally-grounded, and succeed by building local support in pursuit of the shared goal of revitalizing the local economy.

Shuman feels that the traditional “economic development” model of chasing after large companies with huge taxpayer subsidy deals is the wrong way to revitalize a crippled or stagnant local economy.  He says, “economic development today is creating almost no new jobs.” 

There is another far more promising path.


At CCEC, your investments and funds give us the capacity to provide business loans to your neighbours who are creating “pollinator businesses”.  Refer friends and co-workers to CCEC.  Think of us when you are buying a home, renovating, going back to school or (fill in the blanks)!


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Ross G and Robin P.
CFRO Vancouver Co-op Radio (100.5 FM) provides a whole host of programs about our city and our struggles. Notably, Each for All features BC's co-operative sector.  Host Robin Puga is eager to make the show a true meeting place for people interested in co-operation.  On March 31/15 Ross Gentleman of CCEC was his guest for an hour long conversation about CCEC Credit Union and credit unions more generally. Credit unions are consumer co-ops that provide financial services, owned by depositors. The conversation started with some of the history of CCEC and then it explored some of the innovations that this little credit union has introduced.  CCEC is still eager to push boundaries and develop community through the more effective use of our own resources. "What is your money doing tonight?" 
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The name CCEC comes from our early manifestation, the Community Congress for Economic Change, and the board has chosen to re-explore that 'economic change' dimension of who we are. Sometimes we can see ourselves as an innovator, an advocate, and a champion. Two terms that challenge us are economic democracy, and economic justice.  Over the coming few weeks we have a community organizer meeting with a number of community groups, members and non-members, to get a reading on how people see things in our contemporary world and where CCEC can take action.

Some members may receive invitations to meetings. The conversations are expected to generate good inputs into the Board planning work scheduled for later this year. At the same time, we invite input from all members. CCEC has the potential to seed change - by being vocal, by being innovative, and by being compassionate.  We'll provide updates!   

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Apply to the 7 month leadership program that gives young adults the skills and tools needed to become effective leaders in movements for social and environmental change.

  •  Are you concerned about things like climate change, poverty, public health and education, housing and government policy?

  •  Do you believe that global and local issues are connected?

  • Do you feel that our economic system is focused on profit at the expense of people and the planet?

The application deadline for Next Up BC is September 19, 2014. The program runs between October 2014 and May 2015.  Visithttp://www.nextup.ca/how-to-apply/ for more information.  

Next Up is co-hosted in BC with Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Next Up was created by a community of people who wanted to help emerging leaders develop new and better skills, smarts and ideas. The program is intense. Over seven months, we’ll dive into a number of topics and disciplines, combining theory, practice, deep thinking, and hard skills. We’ll look at some of the most pressing Canadian policy issues, with a focus this year on climate change. We will consider where “progressive” thinking is on these issues and how to solve them. We’ll look at how change is made in society. And we’ll meet some of the most innovative change-makers in the province — from the non-profit, labour, business and public sectors — who are working for a better world.


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