The Barataria Exchange Project was a demonstrative project with community currencies in four European contexts: Rural Scotland, Mayo County in Ireland, and the cities of Amsterdam and Madrid. The purpose was to develop a variety of community currencies for third sector organisations, public entities, small businesses and professionals. The project was launched in 1998 by Barataria (then Qoin) under the auspices of the DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the EU.
Barataria Exchange Project was an experiment inspired by the experiences of the Swiss WIR, commercial bartering companies, and LETS. The focus was to devise ways of involving local businesses in community exchange networks as a way to increase their economic impact in depressed areas. The four pilot systems differed in scope, ambition and monetary design according to the characteristics of the local or national economy, demography, social and cultural factors and legal frameworks. The projects in Scotland (called SOCs), Madrid (called the 3rd Sector Bartering Co-operative), and Amsterdam (named Amstelnet) were electronic mutual credit models, whereas the initiative in Ireland was a scrip system called ROMA.
The name ‘Barataria’ is borrowed from the work of Economist Silvio Gesell named “Das Wunderinsel Barataria” (translated from Spanish by Klaus Rosenfeld), which is a narrative about the fictitious island of Barataria that during a certain period went through economic prosperity and social equality thanks to the negative interest currency [Points to Demurrage] that the islanders used.