Calgary has become the first Canadian city to launch a digital version of its local currency.
Known as the Calgary Digital Dollar, the digital currency will be used exclusively in the City of Calgary located in Alberta Province and will operate alongside the federal currency, the Canadian Dollar (or the loonie as it is popularly referred),
Initially reported by the Global News , the launch event of the Calgary Digital Dollar was officiated by the finance minister of Alberta province, Joe Ceci.
As the forebearer of the Calgary Digital Dollar, the Calgary Dollar is an initiative of the city, small business enterprises, and nonprofits. Since 1996 when the Calgary Dollar first became available, the complementary currency has been used to assist local businesses by ensuring that what is generated in the local economy remains within the ecosystem. Businesses in the city are obliged to accept at least 10% of payment in the digital currency or as much as 100%.
During the launch event, Ceci expressed hope that the digital currency would continue to boost local businesses:
“I don’t mind seeing things happen locally and people making money. It’s a lot of fun to meet people and barter and exchange,” said Ceci during the launch. “[The Alberta government] supports the work of Calgary Dollars in every way.”
The Calgary Digital Dollar cannot be purchased or cashed out in the same manner as cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. One of the ways of earning digital currency is by taking surveys or referring to new users. The digital currency can also be obtained by posting ads aimed at selling, trading, or bartering goods or services on the Calgary Dollars website or via an app and paying for the service using Canadian dollars.
Users will then get a certain amount of the digital currency as rewards which can consequently be used to pay transit tickets, grocery purchases, and other goods and services. Additionally, the digital currency can be donated to Take Action Grants which funds local community projects. The City of Calgary also accepts Calgary Dollars as payment for license costs.
The Calgary Digital Dollar is similar to a digital currency known as the E-Ora which was tested this year by South Africa’s Orania community. Pegged to the South African rand, the E-Ora is issued by the Orania Chamber of Commerce just like its forebearer the Ora and is meant for exclusive use in Orania, a town of around 1,600 people.
Some of the advantages of the E-Ora as CCN.com reported in July include reducing the cost of transactions:
“It is basically electronic cash that will be moved from wallet to wallet with every transaction without the commercial banks standing in the middle. In this way friction and cost are removed from the transaction. Both consumers and retailers will save between three and five percent per transaction.”
Calgary image from Shutterstock.