Italian town issuing trade currency to boost local economy

The mayor of a small Italian town with a population of only 550 residents recently began issuing a municipal trade currency – known as “Ducati” – to stimulate the local economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Castellino del Biferno Mayor Enrico Fratangelo has been researching local trade currencies about a dozen years, he told Il MessaggeroThe Messenger – a 142-year-old Italian newspaper based in Rome, Italy.

“We decided to mint money to make sure the local economy could withstand the impact of the situation. However small this economy may be, there are three or four businesses still open, without considering bars or pubs,” said Fratangelo.

Castellino del Biferno is about 185 kilometres southeast of Rome in southern Italy, which saw sharp increases in COVID-19 cases after the northern half of the country was quarantined in early March.

The second epicentre of the pandemic – after Wuhan, China, and before New York City – Italy reported 199,000 cases and nearly 27,000 deaths from COVID-19 as of April 27.

The Ducati notes, which depict the local church, public swimming pool and Virgin Mary statue, are printed locally and distributed to residents according to their financial needs. Each Ducati is worth one Euro (about $1.50 Cdn.) and can be spent on essential goods, including food at grocery stores and markets, where thousands of Ducati have already been spent, Fratangelo said. Every two weeks, the local businesses return the “Ducati” to the town council and receive the same amount in Euros.

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