Our first year operating a common good parachain on Kusama has clearly demonstrated what Encointer can do, with our first currency growing steadily and more on the way.
As we take stock at the end of our first year in operation, Encointer is proud to have made great strides. Our first community currency, Zurich’s Leu, is circulating steadily and growing in acceptance. Our protocol has been refined and adapted in response to the lessons we’ve taken from practical experience. And, most importantly for our mission of inclusivity and empowerment, we can show good progress in developing further currencies around the world. Below are Encointer’s key achievements from 2022.
Leu leads the way
The first test of Encointer’s concept in the real world came with the launch of Zurich’s own Leu community in May. We are proud to say that the currency has grown steadily, attracting press attention (from a mass circulation daily as well as ETH’s student magazine Polykum) and convincing a growing number of merchants of the benefits of accepting LEU.
Members can claim 44 LEU every 10 days, and spend them at 7 participating merchants in the inner city. From a local bar and food retailer, to yoga and music lessons, and even local honey and homewares, the range of uses for the currency keeps growing.
Leu has also been accepted at occasions such as the Openair Wipkingen music festival, with more special events planned for 2023.
At the start of December, total turnover reached 9,049 LEU.
Over a thousand devices now have the Encointer app installed, and 180 accounts hold at least enough Leu for a coffee.
The economic impact of Leu will be studied in a Master’s thesis for ZHAW in 2023.
To build awareness, we have run a billboard campaign, and presented the currency to renters at the trendy Viadukt shopping precinct.
We have a regular social events program with guest speakers to discuss topics around inclusivity in economics, tech and other areas – of course, always including an opportunity to explain how Encointer works and answer any questions.
We are also focusing on expanding the base of participating merchants, recruiting a part-time sales force to approach suitable businesses, and building a community-owned “market maker” to promote the circular economy.
After Zurich, the world
With Leu firmly on its feet, we are directing more efforts toward starting new communities elsewhere, especially in developing countries.
On the global stage
We participated in a number of events, which have been effective in drawing approaches from community leaders around the world.:
Polkadot Decoded, in both Berlin and Buenos Aires.
The LATAM Polkadot hackathon.
The RAMICS Biennale (Research Association on Monetary Innovation and Community and Complementary Currency Systems) in Sofia, Bulgaria. The event, where a representative of the Bulgarian National Bank joined the opening panel, yielded valuable connections outside the crypto world.
We also presented Encointer to ReFi Zurich and to the Data Innovation Alliance.
We were also invited to the popular Green Pill podcast, hosted by Gitcoin Founder Kevin Owocki, where Encointer is the first featured project outside the Ethereum ecosystem. (Other guests have included Martin Köppelmann and Vitalik Buterin.)
We also ran a boosted social media campaign focused on sub-Saharan Africa, drawing over 70 registrations within days, and are now reviewing these applications. We have set up an overview of the on-boarding process, where anyone can easily see how to apply to start a community as well as reviewing communities already in the process of exploration and development.
We have set up a milestone-based unconditional seed funding process, with staged rewards starting at USD 2,000. Initial milestones have been set to support the launch phase, with further milestones being defined in consultation with the community leaders.
Our new and upcoming communities are:
Green Bay, Wisconsin, US. Our third community is set for launch on mainnet at the start of January. The team has registered with the local chamber of commerce, to promote acceptance by local businesses, and will start with very few meetup locations, in order to build community cohesion.
Berlin, Germany. The Berlin team is close to launching on testnet, having taken a very thorough conceptual approach. They have established further touchpoints with CirclesUBI, which is also based in Berlin.
Kigali, Rwanda. The Aslah currency was formed on October 30th, with 10 bootstrappers each creating 25 ASL. Unfortunately, the currency is currently purged as a result of 5 unsuccessful cycles. This highlights the importance of having a more extensive network in place prior to activating a currency, a lesson we will keep in mind in other communities. We are in contact with the local community leader to seek a resolution.
Fundraising for impact
In the course of Q4 2022, we started contacting NGOs active in the fields of financial inclusion and development aid, such as World Vision Switzerland. We are preparing documentation to support these approaches, aiming to start closing deals in Q1/Q2 2023. The goal is to help the local implementations of Encointer communities in the global south.
The Leu community is important to pave the way for communities in less developed countries. We have reached out to organizations working with less privileged people in Zurich, such as AOZ – Stadt Zürich (Asylum organization for the canton of Zurich) and Essen für Alle (food for all), to help us ensure inclusion locally and add social value. Further meetings are scheduled for the next quarter.
Protocol and other progress
In August, we implemented a runtime upgrade that fixed a critical bug as well as improving the protocol based on our practical experience in Zurich. The next upgrade is currently in the Gov2 pipeline, and aims to improve security and support community growth by enabling reputable members (not only bootstrappers) to endorse new members, as well as allowing members to cancel their registration for upcoming gatherings. On December 23, Encointer’s latest Treasury Proposal was granted by the Kusama community, which will fund our operations for Q1 and Q2 2023.
Another improvement in the works is implementing Integritee SDK sidechains in order to decrease latency and preserve the privacy of participants. We have also on-boarded an app development team in Kyrgyzstan to improve the wallet app.
Finally, at this stage of development, it became necessary to make some leadership changes. Malik el Bay has been appointed as deputy to our founder and president Alain Brenzikofer. With Malik taking over day-to-day operations, Alain has been able to devote his energies to on-boarding new communities in the Global South, furthering Encointer’s core mission of empowerment and inclusion.
Another key goal for 2023 will be to advance integration with other parachains in the DotSama ecosystem, providing them with Encointer’s unique benefits in terms of financial inclusivity, Sybil defense and one-person-one-vote democracy.
Looking back on all the events of 2022, we are proud to see how well Encointer’s team and technology have proven themselves. The inevitable bumps in the road (such as network outages, or the discovery of limitations in the design) have served only to help us improve – and to boost the community’s confidence in Encointer as they see how effectively and transparently we have resolved issues.
The year has shown exactly how much we can accomplish, and set us well on our way to doing so. Stay with us in 2023 as we push on toward building a more inclusive Web3.