Chiemgauer is the name of a regional local currency started in 2003 in Prien am Chiemsee, Bavaria, Germany. It is named after the Chiemgau, a region around the Chiemsee. The Chiemgauer program is intended to promote local commerce and non-profits. The Chiemgauer operates with a fixed exchange rate: 1 Chiemgauer = €1.
Creation and objectives
Christian Gelleri, a high school teacher, started this project with his students, who are in charge of designing and printing vouchers and take care of administration, accounting, advertising and other tasks. Chiemgauer is a member of a regional currencies' network called Regiogeld e.V. (regiomoney-association).
- Employment creation: unemployed, students and volunteers are hired to work, earning some allowances
- Promotion of cultural, educational and environmental activities: the Chiemgauer system supports non-profits who work for such purposes
- Promotion of sustainability: organic food and renewable energy among others
- Strengthening the solidarity: enhancing the human relationship between local shoppers and businesses
- Stimulation of local economy: The Chiemgauer retains purchasing power within the region better than the euro and favours local small businesses, stimulating transactions through demurrage.
- Express-Money: Example for a complementary currency on a national level
Currency issue, exchange and acceptance
Bills of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 Chiemgauer are issued. To maintain an individual bill's validity, a "scrip" corresponding to 2% of the banknote value must be paid every three months. This system, called demurrage, is a form of currency circulation tax invented by Silvio Gesell.)
There is also an electronic form of the Chiemgauer: the eChiemgauer. The rules are the same as for the paper money. The demurrage is 8% per year.
Since 2006, an electronic form of the Chiemgauer — the 'eChiemgauer' — is also in use. Bank accounts are used for operations; this has been made possible through cooperation with cooperative and local banks. Only businesses and non-profits need additional electronic accounts, while consumers have the possibility to use electronic cards called 'Regiocard'. Two third of Chiemgauer turnover is electronic.
Interest free saving and loans
Chiemgauer can be saved without interest at a social cooperative called REGIOS (since 2007). Likewise, a microcredit programme for businesses and non-profits exists since 2010. Loans are available in amounts ranging from €1,000 to €20,000. Interest is calculated at a rate of 9%, but when a loan issued in Chiemgauer is paid back on time and without fault the entire interest costs are paid back to the debtor.
How the Chiemgauer works
- Issuing Office: Consumers can change euros into Chiemgauer at about 40 issuing offices.
- Consumers: Exchange Chiemgauer 1 to 1. €100 are exchanged for 100 Chiemgauer. Chiemgauer can be spent at local businesses at face value, thereby helping both local non-profits and businesses without any further cost. As a 'bonus', those exchanging their euros for Chiemgauer choose a non-profit which receives 3 percent of the value exchanged.
- Businesses: Accept Chiemgauer at face value and spend them for their own purchases, but also have the option to exchange 100 Chiemgauer for €95, losing 5% for commission but earning more by attracting Chiemgauer members to their products and/or services. Of this, €2 is allocated to administrative costs, and €3 representes the donation to a non-profit when the Chiemgauer were originally bought.
- Non-profits: Receive 3 percent of any amount of euros exchanged for Chiemgauer. This motivates members and friends of the organization to participate in the project. In the registration form consumers choose which non-profit to support.
- Total number of members (consumers, businesses, societies/municipalities): 3889 (2010: 3049)
- Number of businesses accepting the currency: 593 (2010: 602)
- Amount of paper Chiemgauer in circulation: 154000 (2010: 187000)
- Amount of eChiemgauer in circulation: 540000 (2010: 308000)
- Turnover: 7400000 Chiemgauer (2010: 5000000)
- Income for non-profit organizations: 61000 Chiemgauer (2010: 45000)
- Total income for non-profits since 2005: 443000 Chiemgauer
- Velocity of money: 5.16 per year (over 3 times that of the euro, which was 1.66)
- Westervelt, Eric; From Stalwart To Skeptic, Germany Rethinks EU Role; NPR; July 2010
- Gelleri, Christian; Chiemgauer Regiomoney; International Journal of Community Currencies, 2009.
- Gelleri, Christian & Mayer, Thomas;Express Money; January 2012
- Gelleri, Christian; Neuro : supplement to Euro; November 2012
- Rösl, Gerhard; Regional currencies in Germany - Local competition for the euro?; 2006
- Chiemgauer-Statistik 2003 bis 2014