A Taxonomy of Digital Community Currency Platforms



Digital payment platforms and community currencies have been investigated as separate academic subjects. While payment platforms have been a prominent topic at the research agenda of business schools, community currencies, designed to facilitate transactions in limited boundaries, are mostly restricted to political science.

In the last few years, however, societal changes are driving these two fields together. Increased access to mobile phones, more prevalent than bank accounts in many developing countries and in poor areas of developed countries, is one these forces. Another force is the launching of blockchain technology, such as to support the Bitcoin currency the first alternative currency to achieve worldwide acceptance. One third force, the concern about energy consumption patterns, have also raised the question – even in more traditional payment environments – on the need to promote means of exchange based on units of value, such as energy or time. The global financial crisis made the emergent digital community currency (DCC) scenario even more relevant.

To better understand this new generation of DCC platforms, we developed a taxonomic theory based on a detailed investigation of twenty-two platforms in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Dimensions were taken from Tiwana's platform ecosystems theory. This taxonomy of DCC platforms describes four groups of currencies platforms based on architectural, governance, and other dimensions.