Belfast creates its own currency to reward residents
Belfast City Council has announced plans to use technology developed by an Israeli company to launch a new currency for the city.
Belfast Coin will operate as a rewards platform, allowing residents to accumulate the currency in return for activities such as shopping at local businesses, healthy living, volunteering and other civic activities.
Tel Aviv-based Colu already operates currency initiatives in the UK, including in cities such as Liverpool.
Belfast City Council said its new coin, set to be launched later in the year, represents the UK's first incentive-based digital currency. It will be used to encourage positive activities, boost the economy and help meet environmental goals, by motivating 'green activity'.
It aims to establish a network of shops, cafes and restaurants which will accept the currency.
Users can obtain Belfast Coin by downloading an app and connecting a payment card. The currency scheme will initially encourage users to shop at independent businesses in the city's Cathedral Quarter.
The council said that it will now work to sign up businesses, large employers and higher educational institutions.
The currency is being rolled out as part of Belfast's participation in the Rockefeller Foundation's '100 Resilient Cities' (100RC) scheme.
After an appeal was made to members of the 100RC network in January to work with Colu, Belfast was one of six cities invited to a workshop at the Israeli tech company's Tel Aviv office.
Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey said: "Being selected to be part of the city currency challenge means an important opportunity for Belfast.
"Belfast Coin will be introduced later this year and it's our hope that it will give an economic boost to local businesses, as well as helping council achieve other long-term goals, including environmental."