Why Canadians Are Cutting Currency in Half

Local currency aims to keep money in the community
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2016 5:20 PM CST
Why Canadians Are Cutting Currency in Half
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

In the Gaspesie region of northern Quebec, locals are cutting money in half. Why? It's all about boosting the local economy, Fast Company explains. Martin Zibeau and his friends heard about the idea of alternative currencies from a French tourist, and the group decided to try putting the idea into motion in Gaspesie. A half-bill is called a "demi," and a demi is worth just what you'd think—$5 if it's half of a $10 bill, $10 if it's half of a $20 bill, etc. Demis can only be used locally, and the idea is to keep money circulating in the community. Of course, for that to work, local businesses have to agree to accept it; currently, there are a few businesses that do so in Gaspesie.

The demi is different from other forms of local alternative currency in that it uses existing Canadian currency as its base. Economic experts have warned that anti-counterfeiting measures need to be taken into account when creating a local currency, but the demi gets around security concerns—the Canadian government has already taken anti-counterfeiting measures, and so the demi comes built-in with those features. Other alternative currencies include the SoNantes in Nantes, France (which is all-digital) and the Ithaca HOUR in Ithaca, New York. "We printed our own money because we watched Federal dollars come to town, shake a few hands, then leave to buy rainforest lumber and fight wars," says the HOUR website, noting that more than $110,000 of the paper money has been issued since 1991 and thousands of purchases have been made with it. (More currency stories.)

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