A new cryptocurrency, billed as a ‘social’ cryptocurrency, is attracting a lot of interest from abroad, as governments, councils, and social groups consider introducing a similar scheme. HullCoin uses similar technology to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin but will be awarded to those that perform “good works”. They cannot be bought and sold, but local businesses are signing up to offer discounts of between 10% and 50% to holders of the digital currency. The scheme has won nearly £250,000 of government and charitable funding and, while it is only currently being trialled in the Yorkshire port city of Hull, it could be rolled out nationally if it proves a success.
Charitable actions, like helping teach children to read, are considered “good works” and will be rewarded with the coins. Even quitting smoking can reward an individual with a new HullCoin, because the currency founders have said that this reduces the burden on local services.
Blockchain technology is used to timestamp the qualifying activity into the coin. The recipient is then given a QR code to scan with their phone, and they digitally receive the coin. Founder of Kaini Industries, the company behind the new cryptocurrency, has said that holders will also be able to build a social CV that they can show to prospective employers in the future too.
The scheme is still very much in its infancy, and there are hurdles to overcome. Some retailers and local businesses want to offer different discounts according to the type of action that led to the coin being awarded; something that is possible with the coins. There are also restrictions; for example, the coins cannot be used to get a discount on cigarettes and alcohol, and there is some debate over whether it should be acceptable to use them for buying takeaway food.
The HullCoin cryptocurrency is still in the beta testing phase, but currently has 800 volunteer users with 73 organisations issuing the coins and 140 retailers offering discounts. Kaini Industries hopes that the currency will go live in January 2018.