How our system works:
WAIS alternative currency vouchers and the Local Employment & Trading System (L.E.T.S.)
L.E.T.S. is a system of barter or trading which uses locally created currency between members to value their trading. The unit of exchange is called WAIS, which equals, more or less, the NZ$ in value. WAIS are a measure of trading between members. They're recorded in members’ accounts and may be held in the form of WAIS Vouchers.
L.E.T.S. was designed by Michael Linton in the early 1980s on Vancouver Island, Canada, as a response to high unemployment in the community and to give value to people's skills when federal dollars became scarce. Now it exists more for other reasons, such as an antidote to globalisation, enhancing identification with local community, providing a sustainable economic trading system and valuing people's skills that are not frequently honoured in the conventional cash system. The main feature is that wealth created by trading and using WAIS stays right in the community. WAIS is complementary to the conventional economy.
* is available to anyone who wants to work
* is better than a barter system
* there are no risks
* you can trade with many people
* is good for your community
* is available to anyone who has a skill or goods someone else needs
* creates jobs by giving credit
* works alongside the Kiwi dollar
* creates wealth which circulates locally interest free
What is the purpose of the WAIS complementary currency vouchers?
WAIS Vouchers are a complementary currency for the Wairarapa, like a gift voucher or a book token: A 1 WAIS voucher (worth 1 NZ dollar) that can only be redeemed at locally owned participating stores. The mechanism works as follows:
You buy the currency in one of the issuing outlets, receive it in change or (for Wairarapa LETS members) withdraw it from your account.
You spend the currency in any of the accepting outlets including WAIS markets.
The WAIS Voucher Project was established to build economic resilience by supporting local businesses and producers, reducing our carbon footprint and helping unemployed and underemployed people. It will raise awareness about the way we spend money and the fact that a voucher spent locally keeps building wealth as it circulates, instead of leaking out to the global economy.
The currency gets used by shops in a variety of ways: Primarily shopkeepers are encouraged to re-use it, probably as change, but also as (part-) payment to suppliers or to employees.
It is risk-free as it can be traded back to NZ dollars at any time. However, we don't encourage this as the main aim of the currency is to keep money circulating and building wealth.
How do you spend it?
You can spend the WAIS Vouchers in any of the participating outlets. However, it can also be used for any payments within the Wairarapa community if the recipient is willing to accept them. So feel free to use them to pay for any goods or services, as gifts or pocket money or any other way that seems to make sense! Shops are encouraged to pay their local suppliers with it as well as their employees if the employees are willing to accept it. It should then be treated as a taxable benefit.
How do I account for it at the end of the day in my till?
In the same way as you would account for NZ dollars. Each WAIS Voucher can potentially be exchanged for a NZ dollar and has the same book value. Any WAIS Voucher remaining in the till at the end of the day should be kept in the next day's float. Larger amounts can be used to pay suppliers or employees, or can be used by the trader for his/her own purchases, while as a last resort, they can always be traded back into NZ dollars.
Is it legal?
It is legal as a voucher, but it is not legal tender. This means that there is no obligation to accept it and it will only be accepted in participating outlets. From a tax perspective, anything paid for in WAIS Vouchers is accounted for in the same way as a NZ dollars.
Where can I buy it?
You can buy the WAIS Vouchers two issuing outlets so far;
The Wairarapa Green Dollar Exchange office in the Wairarapa Community Centre, 170 Dixon Street, Masterton.
At any Wairarapa Green Dollar market.
Where can I spend it?
You can spend it in any of the participating stores. These stores will indicate on their shop window whether they take WAIS Vouchers. The participating stores are listed on this website.
Is it safe?
Each WAIS Voucher is printed in high quality on distinctive paper with, serial numbers and other security features. How do you keep it in circulation? By using it! As change, to pay local traders, suppliers, employees or even friends, to make charitable donations to local organisations, etc..
Isn't this just going to appeal to Leftists?
Probably "yes" at the outset, but as the Vouchers become better known and more commonly used, it will spread throughout the Wairarapa community. Also, WAIS Vouchers will be given to individuals and charities as gifts, which will ensure wider use. Complementary currencies really come in to their own as social support mechanisms during economic recession, times of inflation and unemployment.
Isn't it just silly money which won't make a difference?
Initially, it won't make a difference from an economic perspective, as the number of WAIS Vouchers released is minimal compared to the size of the Wairarapa economy. However, it will start raising awareness about the broader underlying issues and as result help Wairarapa residents understand some of the challenges we are facing and the benefits of a focus on local resilience. In the longer-term, when WAIS Vouchers prove to be successful, they will have a much bigger impact as more Vouchers are released in the community, similar to the situation the US county of Berkshare where over $1.5 Million have been issued or the WIR in Switzerland which is used by 16% of Swiss businesses.
Is this going to replace the dollar?
No, it is a complementary currency, not an alternative currency. The aim of it is to ensure that we emphasise the availability and quality of locally produced goods and locally owned businesses, without turning away from the benefits that a more globalised economy can also bring.
What happens to the NZ dollars that are taken when people buy WAIS Vouchers?
All NZ dollars are banked in a special bank account, so that we can access them at any time should people wish to trade their Vouchers back into NZ dollars.
Will the introduction of WAIS Vouchers have an inflationary effect?
No, as there is no additional currency added to the total pool because for each WAIS voucher that is brought into circulation either a NZ dollar or a WAIS(LETS Green) Dollar is taken out of circulation.
Why use it if I can only spend it in local shops as there are a lot of products I can only get in chain stores?
There are some products that are more likely to be found in chains, but you would be surprised at the quantity and quality of products available in local shops. And contrary to popular belief, local shops are not necessarily more expensive. Also you can use WAIS Vouchers where you can and save your NZ$ for where you can't. Why not give it a try?
Why isolate ourselves?
We're not isolating ourselves but we're building resilience from the environmental and economic challenges ahead while strengthening our community. We still welcome many aspects of the national and global economies, without which we would not be able to thrive as a community.
Is the Wairarapa doing this alone?
The Wairarapa is one of a growing number of communities creating their own currency. There's nothing new about complementary currencies, and there are hundreds of them in circulation around the world. We are incubating ideas for our region and other communities to copy and adapt for their own community resilience during times of economic change.