Research Political Sciences

Solidarity Currencies for Immigrants in Italian Communities

, by Claudio Todesco
Money that can only be spent locally can remunerate migrants, helping them integrate while they gain training

A complementary currency may help asylum seekers integrate. This is the idea of Massimo Amato and Luca Fantacci of Bocconi University. They have carried out a study, on behalf of the municipality of San Martino in Rio, a small town in Emilia-Romagna, on the prospect of issuing a local currency that can help asylum seekers to integrate into the economic and social fabric of the host society.

"In a small town, inactive migrants tend to be left outside the social body", Amato says. "Our idea is to allow them to earn their living by training them and making them work for the community, for example by caring for public green areas, and paying them with a complementary currency". This currency is called Buoni di Solidarietà Territoriale, "territorial solidarity vouchers" that are convertible in Euros within six months, which is the average stay of an asylum seeker.

Vouchers can be spent only in the area of the issuing municipality. The limited circulation is their strength. Merchants who receive them can in turn use them to make other payments until the expiration date. Alternatively, starting from the first transaction, the vouchers could last 30 days that automatically renew each time they are used to make a purchase, up to six months. "Some studies tell us that local public spending has a higher multiplier ratio than central government spending. Injecting liquidity is not enough, though. It is necessary to increase the monetary flow in local areas. These vouchers contribute to integration, care of the public good and territorial development".

The idea of an Euro with an expiration date was developed in the framework of Digipay4Growth, a European project that aims to use local payment systems to stimulate economic growth. In February 2018, the Buoni di Solidarietà Territoriale project was approved by the city council of San Martino in Rio. "It is now necessary to overcome labor law and IT platform issues and prejudices against complementary currencies".

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