Creative Currency: New Tools for a New Economy

From 2012-2013, Creative Currency was Research Lab bringing together leading developers and designers with national experts in social finance, local currencies, crowdfunding, sharing platforms, and other leaders of the new economy to envision, prototype, and deploy innovative solutions that re-imagine our systems of exchange from the ground up.

The program was featured in The New York Times, titled: Applying Cybertechniques to Urban Problems.

Focusing on San Francisco’s Mid-Market District, the initiative will answer pressing questions, such as: How can financial data empower low-income residents? How can local currencies support local businesses and community organizations? How can sharing platforms be tailored to fit the needs of under-served communities? How can tools like crowdfunding and microcredit be put to work for social service organizations and individuals alike?

The program model for the initiative (below) is a first-of-its-kind combination of extensive community outreach, rapid prototyping, and iterative deployment that emerged from GAFFTA's experience uniting technologists and local organizations. The extensive Community Brief produced for the initiative was the result of 16 one-on-one interviews, over 150 individual surveys, and two months of research, and served as a direct input to inform hackathon teams at the Collaboration Weekend. Teams and projects that offered new solutions social challenges faced by the Mid-Market community were chosen to receive ongoing support and funding from Hub Bay Area and Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. Creatively applied digital art and technology led to prototypes that address increased commerce, better credit, and access to basic services in the neighborhood.

Click HERE to download a Community Brief PDF of the project.

Partnering with the social enterprise network of Hub Bay Area, the payment expertise of American Express, and the civic leadership of the San Francisco Mayor's Office provides the opportunity to amplify this model to a new level of impact and engagement.


American Express

American Express Company, also known as AmEx, is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Three World Financial Center,Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Founded in 1850, it is one of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.[5] The company is best known for its credit cardcharge card, and traveler's cheque businesses. Amex cards account for approximately 24% of the total dollar volume of credit card transactions in the US.  

Impact Hub: Bay Area

Impact Hub is a global network of local spaces and communities designed to facilitate sustainable impact through collaboration. Local Impact Hubs are autonomous companies that offer co-working spaces, programming, events platforms, and communities of individuals and organizations with ideas to build a better world. Our members and friends (fondly called Impact Hubbers) are members of a community. They are entrepreneurs, activists, artists, and professionals who are acting on passions and unleashing creativity. They aim to leave a legacy in the world. They envision a future where each individual, organization, or company takes courageous and mindful action to create positive impact.