The Bristol Pound initiative is one of the best established, longest lasting and includes the greatest number of merchants of any scheme in the country. The project was conceived in 2009, and the first notes were launched in the autumn of 2012. Bristol Pound CIC says that since its birth, over £5,000,000 Bristol Pounds have been spent in the city, by paper and through their electronic payment schemes. The Bristol Pound shows that bottom-up community organising works and that with cooperation, a town can create a greener, fairer and stronger local economy.
The launch, unlike that in Totnes, was heralded with prodigious fanfare. Articles appeared on the BBC, in the Financial Times, and on many other national and local media platforms. From the outset, platforms were set up for online banking and digital payments, backed through the Bristol Credit Union, which helped the scheme immensely. The homework had been done, and 350 merchants accepted the new currency from the first day.
On 19 September 2012, Lord Mayor Councillor Peter Main used a brand-new Bristol Pound note to buy a loaf of bread from a local baker and officially launched the platform. This rather choreographed ceremony contrasted with the far more relaxed launch of the third issue on 5 July 2018 at a party at the Spike Island café. The speeches started with presentations of framed notes to all the winning artists, and was followed by short talks from trading members, before their departing MD, Ciaran Mundy wound up the evening.
Their latest promotion, that of Bristol Champions, shows the scheme's determined and forward-looking approach to local currency. The Bristol Pound CIC is seeking Community Champions, Business Champions, and Funding Champions to promote the programme and launch it into the next decade.