Activists have been dreaming of a cooperative world for decades. Earlier this year, the dream resurfaced in Catalonia in the heart of the CIC. CIC is a network of production cooperatives, squats, ecological associations and anti-globalization movements. The objective is to develop a revolutionary tool to create another world economy inspired by the following principles: peer-to-peer communities, open cooperation and the ethic of hackers.
To achieve such a result, the owner of the movement (Enric Dunran, 38 years) encourages the alternative associations from other European regions to congregate on the CIC model and to federate in the heart of a mutual change network, called Fair Coop.
Up to today, the cooperations with the “revolutionary” vocation were plagued by a fundamental weakness: they were using official money, which is checked by the states and banks. Enric Dunran did try to overcome this paradox. In 2008, he borrowed 492,000 Euros from different banks to give to advocacy groups and to finance a newspaper. Furthermore, he announced that he did not have any intention to pay back the loan. This rebellion gave him the nickname “the Robin Hood of banks” but other than that, he also received a charge, an arrest warrant and a trial.
The quest for an ethical coin
Since Bitcoin’s introduction, the story has changed. As of today, every geek who is a little gifted can create his own cryptocurrency, using Bitcoin’s algorithms. For Enric Dunran and his friends, it seems obvious that Fair Coop needs to have its own currency as well.
Yet, it is not about adopting Bitcoin. Enric Dunran and his friends find that Bitcoin does have some insurmountable flaws. First of all, to solve the equations for “mining” (creating) bitcoins, a large number of very powerful and expensive computers is needed. Secondly, the “mining” consumes a lot of electricity. Finally, the first people within the Bitcoin system are currently using the rising rates to get rich without doing anything, like annuitants.
Because of this, Enric Dunran started searching a more “ethical” instrument. In spring 2014, he discovers a cryptocurrency with a very appealing name: FairCoin, which is based on Peercoin, another currency that is circulating the internet right now.
Just like Bitcoin, FairCoin exists thanks to a “blockchain”, a public register where all the transactions are stocked. The blockchain can be consulted freely, but the people who own Faircoins stay anonymous. On the flip side, the mining of Faircoins by solving equations is marginal. The original developer of FairCoin, who wants to stay anonymous, has created a system that is more fair and less expensive. At one time in March 2014, he has freely distributed fifty million Euros. He did this over a period of three days and gave the money to people who had opened a virtual wallet on his website.
As a consequence, it was enough for those people to keep their faircoins for twenty-one days to receive new ones automatically, in proportion to their initial capital. The cumulative interests amounted to 6 % the first year, 3 % the second year and 1,5 % in the following years. The number of faircoins is not limited, which provides endless possibilities.
Recovering a collapsed currency
Unfortunately, FairCoin’s developer has turned out less “ethical” than expected. In six weeks, he managed to make his currency’s rates go up artificially. Furthermore, he exchanged his faircoins for bitcoins and has disappeared ever since. The currency’s rates collapsed and nearly reached zero, while the speculators found out that they had been cheated.
Enric Dunran came up with a new project to take control of this sinister currency and use it in the Fair Coop service.
A few license holders were convinced quickly. One of them was Thomas König, an IT consultant, 45 years of age, who lives in Austria. He volunteers to resume Blockchain’s management. “I have fully analyzed the source code of the software. I have come across design flaws and security flaws and fixed them. I have added new wallet functions and I have created a Blockchain exploration tool.” Thomas König takes care of the website and the discussion forums as well.
To initiate the relaunch, Thomas König and other faircoin owners decided to donate their wallets to Fair Coop. At the same time, Eric Dunran launched a crowdfunding operation. With the money people donated through crowdfunding, he repurchased faircoins. At the end of November, when one FairCoin was equal to 0,26 euros, Fair Coop was in control of most faircoins in circulation.
After this success, Enric Dunran is moving on to the second stage: the establishment of a “Fair Credit” system. He is giving out faircoins to different companies and associations intending to rejoin Fair Coop. The beneficiaries have to maintain this social capital, which becomes more valuable as the company’s production grows. This means FairCoin could serve as collateral for a loan system.
Creating a symbiotic economy
The cooperative is not operational just yet, but has already attracted hundreds of militants from different countries. The “provisional guidance”, in charge of coordinating its activities, is driven by important individuals from the alternative movement. One of them is Michel Bauwens, a 55-year-old Belgian who lives in Thailand. He is also the director of the P2P Foundation, a research center based in Amsterdam which promotes peer-to-peer exchanges and free licenses in all economic sectors.
Fair Coop can also count on lawyer Primavera de Filippi, researcher at Harvard, who studies the juridical and social impact of governance systems steered by algorithms and cryptocurrencies. She wants to create a Fair Coop network in Boston.
In France, Fair coop recruited Etienne Hayem, the 30-year-old founder of Symba, a new local cryptocurrency supported by the region Ile-de-France. Symba is meant to help the SMEs involved in fair economy, which the bank denies credit. According to Etienne Hayem, new local currencies and cryptocurrencies with global approaches are from the same movement. “A symbiotic economy’s creation that pairs economic wealth with ecological and social wealth”.
To this day, FairCoin survives mostly because of Austrian Thomas König: “It’s exciting that I can use my competences for such a noble cause. On the other hand, it is exhausting. FairCoin demands all of my free time, I hardly see my family anymore. I do not know how long I can take this.” It does not sound like a cry for help just yet, but it is obvious that any help is welcome.
P2P Foundation : http://p2pfoundation.net