Currency Pilot: E-Portemonnee

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Limburg, Belgium

The E-Portemonnee (e-wallet) is an electronic savings and reward system. It is designed to facilitate sustainable environmentally friendly behaviour, rewarding participants for positive actions such as switching to a green energy provider, delivering goods to the local secondhand shop, or putting a sticker against junk mail advertising on your mailbox.

How does it work?

The e-wallet is simple and user-friendly: residents who exhibit sustainable behaviour are rewarded by their municipality or province with credits registered on their ID cards. The number of credits linked to the action is processed and stored in a central database where every user has his or her own electronic credits account. The credits earned can be used to pay for  other sustainable services or products. When such a purchase is made, the relevant number of credits is deducted via the user’s ID card.

The earned points can be used to purchase public transport tickets, access to the the swimming pool or sports events – or even purchasing chickens for your garden.

Hugo Wanner describes how the E-Portemonnee or ‘e-wallet’ complementary currency project helps reduce waste in Limburg, Belgium – contributing to the prevention of climate change in a small but nevertheless important way.

Limburg.net is the intermunicipal waste-disposal company of the regions Limburg and Diest. The objective of the company is not only the collection and disposal but also the reduction of waste. Always looking for new ways of approaching this problem, they (one of the three companies that merged into Limburg.net, CEO was Kris SoPP nieuwe beeldenmers) launched a program in 2000 called “Return is Back: Putting the environment on the card”, incentivising the return of glass bottles. While the rewards were paid out in Euros, the disadvantage was the these rewards could not be targeted in their use and recipients could have easily channeled the extra cash towards unsustainable purchases.

The e-wallet deals with this. It rewards a wide range of environmental behaviour and the points earned can only be spent on predefined goods and services. The system makes use of the digital national identity cards and is able to collect points on a household level. First called “Putting the Environment on the Card”, the e-wallet launched in November 2005. It is now running in 10 municialities, with 1 to 16 % of households participating (total inhabitants of the province of Limburg = 850.000)