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“It is certain that money is not a good of itself and that its quantity does not do anything for the opulence of a country in general … Money is only the means and the transport, instead of the commodities useful for life are the end and the purpose. (Pierre de Boisguillebert, 1646-1714) . In order to be able to obtain the goods or services that he does not produce himself, the man uses a particular good.
Barter is considered, therefore, a form of “solidary economy”, in which all collaborate with each other to be producers and consumers at the same time, known as ‘prosumers’, in a transparent and equitable relationship. It also contributes to improve the situation of psychological and economic depression in which social groups are excluded from the labor market.
. “With barter the need for money is eliminated to obtain well-being and the use of local knowledge and resources is favored,” says Alejandro Salinas, one of the promoters of this initiative. It is mainly conceived as a growing activity that offers job opportunities to the unemployed, housewives, retirees, artisans and anyone who feels the need for a change in their attitudes of life. Among the main characteristics of the barter system is that at no time is money part of the operation to be carried out. To make any acquisition through this modality it is necessary to group in a Barter Club, where there is usually a limited number of members. In this way, it is propitiated that everyone knows each other and knows everyone’s needs. The value of the goods to be exchanged is established in accordance with the local markets and the operating philosophy of the barter networks is that it is never negotiated with money and the drug trade and prostitution are prohibited.
Originally it was called barter to the exchange of goods between two people without making use of money. Today, however, the concept acquires new dimensions and characteristics: it is about fostering multirecipal barter, the most used at this time in clubs, also called “Nodes”. They do not give a product for another, but you pay with ‘credits’, a kind of social currency that is established to facilitate the exchange. Each Node publishes a list of the offers of goods and services made by the partners. In the lists can be found from someone who offers tortillas, to another that offers services of electrician, passing through English teachers or computer and doctors.
Although they do not have a real market value, it is common that each loan is worth the same as one unit of the currency of the country where it circulates. Thus, there are the so-called “exchange bonds” in Ecuador, “talents” in Colombia and “tupís” in Brazil. These credits have no owner, are distributed equally among the members of a Barter Network and do not accumulate or treasure as a commodity. This mechanism of alternative economy does not try to replace, however, the formal economy. Since in the current economic system you can only access goods and services through money and this is only achieved through work, in countries where there is increasingly less money and less work, the Barter Network represents a way out efficient and supportive to cover the most basic needs.