Guadalajara Time Bank ∗ Mexico

Guadalajara Time Bank
Banco del Tiempo de Guadalajara 

Alternative Barter System for local development

Guadalajara, Mexico
More information at La Cooperacha: lacoperacha.org.mx/banco-tiempo-guadalajara.php

The Time Bank of Guadalajara is a virtual and physical space where services are exchanged using time as an alternative social currency.

The Time Bank of Guadalajara was created in 2011 as a measure to help restore the social fabric of the region (so hurt by insecurity) promoting trust and the creation of networks of friendship and cooperation. The project also seeks to address the problems caused by the lack of conventional money, proposing an alternative exchange currency (time) that prevents the participating community from spending the little money it has, as long as it is able to identify and meet the needs of its members through the exchange of services valued in hours. The dynamic is that all participants take the role of time investors who record the services they can offer (offer) and those they would like to receive (demand) and exchange them according to need, recording the number of hours used in each transaction in their time bank account — so that the credit acquired from the service offer can be used to meet future needs.

These services can range from the delivery of classes; the care of spaces, plants or animals; the solution of technical problems; cooking; transportation to some destination, etc. The important thing is that the offers registered by investors respond to the real needs of their community, so that the alternative economy they are forming is responsive and comprehensive.

For this the role of the coordinator (known as time agent) as an observer of supply-demand complementarity is crucial. It is also the one that organizes frequent meetings between the members so that they can get to know each other, visualize potential collaborations, and start generating trust among themselves. These events also serve to sensitize them about the importance of the project and the needs for its development.

Although the exchange of services was once carried out with the mediation of the time agent (to whom emails were sent requesting his help to formalize agreements), nowadays the process is carried out directly on a web page that is specially designed for time banks (free software here), which lists the services offered and requested, and through which investors make their transactions and manage their time accounts.

As one of the challenges faced by this type of initiative is that it depends on the so undermined confidence among the people, the time agents formulate a regulation that they discuss in detail with the new members at the time of their incorporation, in which they ask them, for example, to inform clients if they will ever be unable to comply with the work they agreed upon, to avoid the complete failure of the network. In addition, the time bank page not only helps to record movements transparently (generating trust). It also has a rating system for users (comments, stars) that allows identifying the nodes (members) of the network that could be causing problems.