In 2013, Oliver Press and David Williams established an association called Independent Liverpool to bring local merchants together. Unique service providers and merchants operating one-of-a-kind restaurants, bars, coffee shops and apparel stores came together and joined Independent Liverpool to better promote themselves to the public.
Liverpool Local Pound
Users in the UK were able to find unique local merchants at ease with Independent Liverpool providing a profile of member merchants and special discounts to travelers visiting Independent Liverpool member merchants. The association, which started with a small coffee shop under its flagship, currently serves hundreds of merchants around Liverpool.
In partnership with Independent Liverpool, Colu is planning to expand their services from Israel to Liverpool by deploying a digital currency which both the locals and travelers can use. Essentially, Colu, led by CEO Amos Meiri, is attempting to deploy a digital currency which co-exists with the pound sterling with the exact same value - one unit of Colu digital currency called Liverpool Local Pound, hereinafter LLP, to one pound.
Meiri is especially optimistic on the launch of the first Liverpool-specific digital currency because local currencies aren’t an abstract concept within the UK. Non-profit organizations have also tried to deploy digital currencies but a lack of clear vision and roadmap stalled the growth and adoption of digital currencies. Meiri, with actual investors, hopes to see real growth of local digital currencies within the UK.
“Local currencies are not a new idea, especially in the UK. The reason they never picked up and became something big is because they were managed by non-profit volunteers, but we are a very ambitious start-up with investors behind us.”
Merits and disadvantages
Meiri suggests that the Colu digital currency will be beneficial to the users as they will be able to enjoy discounts and deals from local merchants. Users will also build connections with Independent Liverpool merchants.
However, LLP plans to charge 5% if users want to convert their remaining balance back to cash.
Moreover, Colu intends to surveil user’s transaction history and provide that data to local merchants. It is essentially using transaction history of users as an advertising tool for merchants that pay a 25 pound fee to Colu annually.
While Meiri states, “The incentive for users is that they get more for their money. They also get to build connections with the local community. We want to encourage users to spend money with other local suppliers,” connection with the local community will not be enough to convince users in utilizing a digital currency which obtains user data and sells them to the merchants. More importantly, a digital currency which can’t be traded on exchanges like Poloniex.