Belfast City Council has announced plans for a mobile app for users to accumulate a rewards currency to spend with local businesses.
Named the Belfast Coin, it has been developed with Israeli and UK based company Colu in an effort to reward positive activity and boost the city’s economy.
Users will be able to connect their bank cards to the app and use it in making payments to business taking part in the scheme.
They will also be able to obtain monetary credits to be added to the app for taking part in activities the council aims to encourage, such as going to a gym or voluntary work.
The council plans to introduce the app later this year and is now talking to local businesses and other potential partners about taking part in the scheme. It hopes to build an ecosystem of stakeholders including large employers and educational institutions.
The plan is to begin by using Belfast Coin with businesses around the Cathedral Quarter then gradually extend its use around the city.
Hopes and goals
Grainia Long, Belfast commissioner for resilience, said: “Belfast Coin will be introduced later this year and it’s our hope that it will initially give an economic boost to local businesses, as well as helping council achieve other long term goals, including environmental improvements.
“This challenge gives us the opportunity to explore how a city currency can bring residents, businesses and city partners together to support inclusive growth - a key priority within our Belfast Agenda. It’s also really exciting to be working alongside other global cities to learn from each other about urban problem-solving and sharing best practice.”
She added: “By motivating residents to make a positive difference, we hope Belfast Coin will strengthen their connection to the city they live in.”
The council said the initiative has been made possible by its membership of 100 Resilient Cities, a global network funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Early last year the foundation put out a call to its members asking for any to work with Colu in establishing a city currency.
Colu has previously developed a similar currency app for Liverpool. Last summer the Liverpool Echo reported that it had thousands of users in the city with more than 300 businesses signed up. In addition, it is used by communities in Hackney and Tower Hamlets in London.