Time-Banking: A Form of Alternative Currency

time banking

If you’re living in one of the developing countries or not so developed countries, time-banking might be a fresh new concept for you.

Is it?

I don’t know about you but I came to know about it in 2013. I was doing some soul-searching in a hermitage when some people from developed foreign countries told me about a time-bank.

What’s time-banking?

In economics, a time-based currency is an alternative currency or exchange system where the unit of account or value is the person-hour or some other time unit.

Some time-based currencies worth everyone’s contributions equally — one hour equals one service credit. In these systems, one person volunteers to work for an hour for another person; thus, they’re credited with one hour, which they can redeem for an hour of service from another volunteer.

What’s a time-bank?

Time-based currency exchanges originated in the early 19th century. Time-banks have been established in some countries, with at least 500 timebanks established in the USA and 300 throughout the UK. They also have a presence in Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan, Senegal, Argentina, Israel, Greece, and Spain.

India doesn’t have any time-bank.


Time-banks have been used to decrease repetition rates with diverting programs for first-time juvenile offenders; facilitate rehabilitation of for ex-convicts; deliver health care, job training, and social services in public housing, enable substance abuse recovery; prevent institutionalization of disabled children through parental support networks; provide transportation for home-bound seniors in rural areas; deliver elder care, community health services, and hospice care; and foster women’s rights.

It’s all about sharing your most valuable resource for charity. Volunteering is one form of charity. It can transmute the lives of both volunteers and recipients by building stronger, happier, and more all-encompassing communities.

Why volunteer?

At the same time as you’ll want to make a real difference when you volunteer, it isn’t just about what you can do for others. Volunteers get a lot out of the experience and create huge social capital too. Here’re some of the things that volunteering can do for you:

  • Give your CV a boost: Recruiters globally prefer employees with volunteering experience.
  • Get back into work: It’s a great way to fill gaps in your career. You can also try out different types of work to get a taste which can help you if you’re looking for a job or want to change direction.
  • Increase your confidence: You’ll learn and do things that you might not usually get the chance to — this can be a real booster.
  • Better your health: While you’re busy volunteering you could also be getting healthier. Research has found that volunteering can do everything from helping you to sleep better to boosting your immune system. It also creates a life of satisfaction, and can facilitate authentic happiness.
  • Social networking: You’ll probably meet people from different cultures and backgrounds that you might not usually. Volunteering with people passionate about a cause as you’re, is a great way to meet like-minded people.

The coming of age of this movement, time-banking remains an approach that is far from fully formed.  The world constantly learning about how and why time-banking as a means of exchange can make a difference in society.

Benefits of time-banking

When time-banking as a means of exchange can be applied in so many different settings, the benefits can be far and wide-reaching.

  • Timebanking makes use of the assets and resources that exist within a particular community or group that are traditionally overlooked in conventional economic transactions and services. In this way, through co-production, time-banking applies a multiplier effect to enlarge the pool of resources available in any system.
  • Equality is enshrined in every time-banking exchange through the principle of an hour for an hour. Because an hour to every human being is equally valuable, and everybody has something to give, time-banking can help some of the most marginalized people feel a sense of self-worth and belonging.
  • Time-banking builds social networks of people who give and receive support from each other, enabling people from different backgrounds, who may not otherwise meet, to come together and form connections and friendships. Generating social capital in this way can be an important determinant of health, well-being, and resilience, all of which can prevent needs arising.

In a nutshell

Time-banking is a highly effective community development tool, empowering individuals and groups to bring about change, make choices, and take control of their own lives and neighborhoods. It’s about building the co-production economy of the future.

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