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Back in time: Bartercard

The cashless economy is often cited as the way of the future, but Bartercard envisaged an entirely money-free economy back in 1991. 

Bartercard is a trading platform which enables businesses to exchange goods and services with one another. These transactions are recorded electronically, with ‘Trade Dollars’ substituted for New Zealand currency. Each trade dollar is equivalent to one New Zealand dollar.

New Zealand was Bartercard’s first international market following the payment system’s creation in Australia. It entered our market in 1992. Since then, the Bartercard Trade Exchange has grown to more than 6,000 member businesses across New Zealand trading around $150 million worth of goods and services outside the cash economy each year. In 2016, parent company BPS Technology Ltd also bought Entertainment Publications Australia and New Zealand, which produces the Entertainment Book.

The top five sectors most active in Bartercard NZ are professional services, hospitality, automotive, construction and building, and food and drink.

Bartercard New Zealand chief executive John Scott says the company’s 25-year anniversary  is a significant achievement for a company and a concept that some people struggle to understand.
“We were one of the first companies in the world to offer a digital currency where no money actually trades hands. That took a bit of explaining in 1992 and, to some degree, it still does,” Scott says.

“The best way to use Bartercard is to use trade dollars to offset a proportion of cash spending and then use the funds generated to reinvest in your business. It does require a bit of lateral thinking to make the Bartercard network work for you. Our most successful members are the one who put in the effort and treat Bartercard as another business channel that can help grow their business.”

The next step for Bartercard will be a mobile-enabled app to launch in 2018. The app will list all New Zealand members’ products and services and link to Bartercard’s everyday rewards programme, Bucqi.

Scott is also working on an improved platform that will delivery real-time information based on the behaviours and buying preference of members.

“The future is around convergence – products, services and rewards. The trade economy is essentially about identifying idle capacity and, rather than giving it away, moving it in a more effective way that lets business owners reinvest in their company.”

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