The (none)sense of circular money

More than 25 years of R&D

More than 25 years ago, STRO started a systematical Research & Develop program focused on circular money as an alternative for the prevailing money system. A keystone was the successful test of the Fomento approach in Fortaleza. STRO worked together with the executing partner Banco Palmas and fulfilled an advisory role to link existing money to local circular money. The project reached unexpected good results: the impact of donor money was (more than) tripled. From that moment onward, STRO started to develop Cyclos software in order to enable monetary innovations at scale.

Eight universities partner the STRO R&D efforts

In the Netherlands, a special program was launched to encourage research focused on (social) topics that are seen as relevant and importnat by the Dutch public. The 2008 financial crisis raised many questions and increased the awareness that @another kind of money is needed. Various people suggested solutions in the field of local currencies and circular money. Based on this public awareness, various universities decided to make a collective effort together with STRO to implement improvements in 4 circular money initiatives in the Netherlands.

Such a collective effort to optimize circular money networks is unique in the world. Up till now the investments in circular money projects have never reached any serious scale. Scale is vital in order to judge the contribution circular money can make to the transition towards a more sustainable future. The investments in this research are small compared to society’s need.

Local and regional governments get the opportunity to learn what circular local money can do

Many local and regional governments either participate in the consortium or showed their interest to learn from the project. The (local) governments where the first circular money business networks are located take the lead. For example, Alkmaar was the very first city in the Netherlands to become a member of a local network.

Other municipalities, such as the city of Amsterdam, participate in the consortium, because they plan to use circular money in one of the city projects. Such participating local governments can profit from the knowledge available in the consortium. The cities of Utrecht, Almelo, Wijk bij Duurstede, Zeist etc and the province of Friesland signed a LOI, showing interest to participate in a joined learning process. The expectation is that many more cities and provinces that hear about the consortium will be eager to join. They are invited to send an email to

Universities partnering in the project

  1. Radboud University, Department of Geography, Planning and the Environment;
  2. DRIFT (Dutch Research Institute For Transition), Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam;
  3. Free University Amsterdam (VU) , Department of Philosophy of Culture, Politics, and Organisation;
  4. University Utrecht, Faculty of Science, Department of Information and Computing Science;
  5. Delft University Delft of Technology, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Department of Engineering Systems and Services;
  6. Sustainable Finance Lab (SFL), Utrecht University, School of Economics, Section Entrepreneurship;
  7. InHolland University of Applied Sciences, Department of Business, Finance and Law (BFL);
  8. HAN University of Applied Sciences, Department of Financial Management.
  9. University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Lectorate Financial-economic advise & Innovation.

Four very different applications of circular money to be optimized and evaluated:

  • Utrechtse Euro
  • Locoo Rotterdam-Feijenoord
  • Alkmaarse Vix
  • United Economy

The four business networks and their environment

The successful Sardex-circuit on Sardinia is often neglected as an example that can be copied. Poeple say that the success comes from the unique island culture and the feeling of belonging of the business community. The 4 Dutch showcases that are part of the consortium show that the option of circular local money is beneficial for many different environments. Where the Utrecht Euro network provides an example of a network in one of the most innovative and thriving locations in the Netherlands, the unemployment in some parts of Rotterdam Feijenoord exceeds the 40%. Alkmaar is not a large city, but plays a large role in its territorial development.  United Economy, the network of sustainable business operating on national scale, is an interesting example how companies that share a common vision on transition can cooperate and use circular money to get stronger and grow as a sector.

Two universities specialized in IT and Artificial Intelligence and STRO, the developer of the E-pay innovation award winning payment software Cyclos, join forces to create the IT structure needed to optimize the introduction and use of circular money. One of the tools that will be created is a serious game that can help to optimize the circular money for any specific region.