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Economy

Micro-Currency: In French City Of Nantes, Soon You Can Pay In Nantos

Accelerated by the financial crisis, Europe has seen a trend for small businesses looking to make more cashless exchanges. Nantes is becoming Europe's first major city to experiment with a virtual currency that can be used both businesses and ind

Nantes moving forwards (Pierre Hurtevent)
Nantes moving forwards (Pierre Hurtevent)

*NEWSBITES

NANTES – This city in western French is getting ready to launch its own local currency as a complement to the euro. Though Nantes is following the example of the WIR cooperative bank in Basel, Switzerland, where 60,000 small and medium-sized enterprises are already using a cashless payment system, this will be the first time a large-scale European city is willing to try the experiment with both businesses and individuals.

The measure addresses the increasing importance of non-monetary exchanges between firms, a tendency that is particularly visible in times of financial crisis. By the summer of 2013, businesses that have signed-up for this system will be able to pay or be paid in currency units already nicknamed "Nanto."

Firms won't be able to amass Nantos or to cash them in, and there will be a system of penalties – for companies over a certain negative or positive fixed limit, as the objective is to converge towards a balanced budget. Nantos that aren't spent can be used to finance non-profit organizations.

One of the main goals of the system is to accelerate trade between local companies. Members of the "Nanto zone" will be able to limit the use of cash, thereby reducing cash flow problems and making exchanges easier.

Nantos respond primarily to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses in the services, construction or restoration. The city intends to put public transport companies, car parks and after-school programs in the loop. Contrary to the Swiss WIR bank that limited its action to businesses, Nantes also wants to include individuals in its system, who could then receive additional remuneration and bonuses in Nanto.

Read the full story in French by Emmanuel Guimard

Photo – Pierre Hurtevent

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Geopolitics

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023

Before heading to South Sudan to continue his highly anticipated trip to Africa, the pontiff was in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he delivered a powerful speech, in a country where 40 million Catholics live.

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — You may know the famous Joseph Stalin quote: “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?” Pope Francis still has no military divisions to his name, but he uses his voice, and he does so wisely — sometimes speaking up when no one else would dare.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Belgian Congo, a region plundered and martyred, before and after its independence in 1960), Francis has chosen to speak loudly. Congo is a country with 110 million inhabitants, immensely rich in minerals, but populated by poor people and victims of brutal wars.

That land is essential to the planetary ecosystem, and yet for too long, the world has not seen it for its true value.

The words of this 86-year-old pope, who now moves around in a wheelchair, deserve our attention. He undoubtedly said what a billion Africans are thinking: "Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered!"

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