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 is a 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 value 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 are credited with one hour, which they can redeem for an hour of service from another volunteer.

What is a time-bank?

Time-based currency exchanges date back to 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 reduce recidivism rates with diversionary programs for first-time juvenile offenders; facilitate re-entry of for ex-convicts; deliver health care, job training and social services in public housing complexes; facilitate substance abuse recovery; prevent institutionalization of severely disabled children through parental support networks; provide transportation for homebound 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. Great volunteering can transform the lives of both volunteers and beneficiaries by building stronger, happier and more inclusive communities.

Why volunteer?

Whilst you’ll want to make a real difference when you volunteer, it’s not just about what you can do for others. Volunteers get a lot out of the experience too. Here are 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 get a reference and fill gaps in your work experience. You can also try out different types of work to get a taster which can really help you if you’re looking for a job or want to change direction.
  • Improve your confidence: You’ll learn and do things that you might not normally get the chance to—this can be a real confidence boost.
  • Improve your health: While you’re busy giving back to your community you could also be getting healthier. Research has found that volunteering can do everything from helping you to sleep better at boosting your immune system.
  • Meet new people: You’ll probably meet people from different cultures and backgrounds that you might not normally. Volunteering with people who are as passionate about a cause as you are, is a great way to meet like-minded people.

The coming of age of this movement, time-banking still 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.

What are the 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. Time-banking is about building the coproduction economy of the future.

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