Greek communities adopt local currency to enable bartering
A few months ago, an alternative currency was introduced in the Greek port city of Volos. It was a grass-roots initiative that has since grown into a network of more than 800 members, in a community struggling to afford items in euros during a deepening financial crisis.
The handicrafts stall at Volos central market lies at the end, just past the homemade jams. After perusing what there is on offer, Hara Soldatou picks out a set of decorated candles, delighted with her purchase. “They cost me 24 TEM, which I built up by offering yoga classes,” she says.
Wherever you wander through the market area, one thing you won’t need in your pocket is money.
From jewellery to food, electrical parts to clothes, everything here is on sale through a local alternative currency called TEM.
It works as an exchange system. If you have goods or services to offer, you gain credit, with one euro equivalent to one TEM.
You can then use your “savings” to buy whatever else is being offered through the network, leading to some rather original exchanges of goods.
It’s all reminiscent of an ancient bartering system returning to today’s Greece.
“I can get language classes or computer lessons in return”, says Stavros Ntentos from his stall where he sells children’s underwear.
“It’s a very good idea because we need to make people realise we can all buy and sell something; we don’t only need euros.”
“We have reached the bottom of our lives and we now have to think in a different way,” says Tasos, a vegetable-seller.