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Tel Aviv launches digital city currency pilot

The currency aims to strengthen the local economy, help tackle the cost of living, enhance city life and increase community involvement.

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The currency can be spent in thousands of local businesses within Colu's Tel Aviv network
The currency can be spent in thousands of local businesses within Colu's Tel Aviv network

The municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo has launched a pilot to examine the feasibility of a digital city currency.

 

The month-long project, the first of its kind in Israel, will be conducted under the auspices of the municipality’s Resilience Unit, its Business Licensing Division and the Tel Aviv Foundation.

 

It follows the announcement by Belfast City Council that it is exploring the use of digital currencies.

 

Tackling the cost of living

 

The currency aims to strengthen the local economy, help tackle the cost of living and improve city life by promoting activities such as healthy living, supporting local businesses, protecting the environment and community involvement.

 

During the pilot, the currency will be deployed in order to strengthen local businesses. It is hoped that at a later stage, the currency will be used as part of a platform to strengthen ties between the municipality and residents, enhancing everyday city life.

 

In particular, actions such as using public transport and reporting hazards to the 106 municipal hotline could be rewarded with the currency.

 

“I believe that every municipality must communicate creatively with city residents, to increase their involvement in city life and make them feel integral to its development,” said Efrat Makin-Knafo, chief resilience officer, municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo.

 

“As a member of the 100 Resilient Cities network, we have chosen a local currency as one way to strengthen our urban resilience, which in practice means reducing the cost of living, increasing social responsibility, civic identity and strengthening the local economy.”

“I believe that every municipality must communicate creatively with city residents, to increase their involvement in city life and make them feel integral to its development”

She continued: “We will continue to use innovative tools in order to more closely connect the private and public sectors with the everyday lives of local residents and businesses.”

 

The pilot began on 5 May 2019 and will last for one month, a period which includes the Eurovision events in Tel Aviv. Local currency rewards will be distributed to those making purchases at local businesses, through the Colu app. Anyone who makes five transactions, each worth new Israeli Shekel (NIS): 20 or more, will receive 25 coins in digital city currency within the app, worth approximately NIS: 25 in total.

 

During the pilot period, Colu and the Tel Aviv Foundation will donate 12 agorot from each transaction to the Children of Music project, based at the Lev Yafo Youth Centre.

 

Economical and community benefits

 

The digital city currency can be spent in any of the thousands of local businesses which accept payment within Colu’s Tel Aviv network. As such, local merchants will receive increased exposure to existing and potential customers. Meanwhile, city residents will enjoy the personal benefit of using the currency, while at the same time strengthening the local economy and community.

 

“We are delighted to be a partner in this project. Colu is all about helping cities thrive," said Amos Meiri, CEO and co-founder, Colu. "By enabling residents to receive rewards for supporting Tel Aviv-Yafo, this pilot will achieve two things.

“We chose to launch this pilot to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest, in order to help bring the benefits of such a high-profile international event to hundreds of local businesses"

"Firstly, it will strengthen the independent businesses which are so important to the city’s economic and social wellbeing. Secondly, by motivating residents to make a positive difference, it will boost their connection to the city they live in.”

 

“The Tel Aviv Foundation initiates and leads projects which combine municipal and philanthropic funds. This project aims to establish an innovative model which both helps reduce the cost of living, while at the same time making an important contribution to the community,” added Hila Oren, CEO of the Tel Aviv Foundation.

 

“We chose to launch this pilot to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest, in order to help bring the benefits of such a high-profile international event to hundreds of local businesses, including those not in the city centre.”

 

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