Starting from March 21st, Brussels has its own currency, the zinne.
“The zinne is an alternative to, not a substitute for, the euro,” said Sophie Hublot during today’s press conference. The idea is to support the local community by orienting consumption towards local and independent businesses that take environmental and social responsibility, thereby avoiding value being lost to the speculation economy.
The day before the launch, close to 90 Brussels businesses had agreed to accept the new currency as payment.
The café-restaurant L’Eau Chaude in the Marolles neighbourhood is one of them. “We joined because our values are similar,” says Jeanne, who prefers to not have her surname published. “We are planning to use the zinne to pay some of our local suppliers, like the bakery in Saint Gilles where we get our bread, and the herbalist that prepares our teas. Hopefully, in the future, we will also be able to pay our vegetable supplier using the zinne.”
L’Eau chaude also functions as one of 23 exchange bureaus where people can switch their euros for zinne, one zinne equals one euro.
The bills, designed by Liv Quackels and featuring scenes from Brussels municipalities, are printed on watermarked paper with holograms to avoid copying. They will be printed in values up to 20 zinne, including a 0 and a 2.5 zinne bill. The zero bill is connected to the concept of time banks, which can be used for the exchange of services between individuals.
You can also purchase professional services with the zinne. Quentin Blondeau is an architect working with environmental concepts such as energy savings and sustainable materials. “I support the values of the zinne and 90% of my projects are in the Brussels region so it made sense for me to join. As an architect I don’t buy a lot of things, but I might use the zinne to repair things, like a broken computer.”
The zinne is a citizen-run project, but has received backing from the local authorities. Financité, the NGO behind the initiative, received support from the Brussels region to launch a VUB study to measure to what extent a local currency can increase the resilience of the city in the case of a collapse of the euro. Financité has also payed for the design and the print of the bills.
Local currencies are already in use in several other communities in Europe, including 15 in Belgium. “We are in contact with the other communities,” says Sophie Hublot. “To hear the experience from long-running initiatives, such as the Val’Heureux in the Liège region, has been very helpful in the development of the zinne.”
The businesses and the exchange bureaus included in the zinne network can be found here.