Argentinian Exchange Club

In the 1990’s, money and jobs were scarce in Argentina, so people got organized and formed an “exchange club” based on the trading of goods and services.  The model was a huge success growing to more than 7 million members who were able to survive without participating in the formal economy.

The 1990’s were marked by economic turmoil and extreme hardship in Argentina, eventually leading to economic collapse in 2001.  As more and more people were laid-off and without work, an alternative barter system grew that became a lifeline for millions.

The grassroots movement emerged as the Global Barter Network, also known as the Red Global de Trueque (or RGT). In this system, “credits” were issued for the exchange of goods and services and members were labeled as “prosumers” because they were both producers and consumers. Unlike government issued money, these credits were decentralized and backed by real value, allowing people to exchange freely for things they needed and wanted but could not acquire in the mainstream economy.

The model took off and was adopted throughout Central and South America, becoming the largest national community currency network in the world.  The system did have some flaws, such as a lack of adequate controls against counterfeiting resulting in stolen inventory, however it suggests the remarkable power of money that represents real value. It proves that economies can be set up to benefit the people at large, without anyone having to pay interest or go into debt. 

For more in-depth information about the Global Barter Network, watch the video.