The BarterUnit Experiment: A Community Currency Fighting Poverty, Inequalities and Social Exclusion


As part of its plan to tackle poverty and make up for a shortage of the official currency, BarterUnit LLC, has officially announced it has launched its own digital community currency system- called the Barter Unit.

The economic experiment is the brainchild of Phillip H. Perez. Perez is the Founder and CEO of BarterUnit LLC. He has a master’s degree in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation and is an avid humanitarian helping communities create and promote better quality living standards.

We had the privilege to sit down and extensively interview Perez and ask general questions regarding the new Wyoming startup. Below is the full the discussion.

Phillip, what is BarterUnit?

“In short, it’s a digital community currency system with an embedded marketplace. Its primarily designed to be a community currency with the goal of helping finically disadvantaged communities rise from poverty. Think of it as extra capital that works for all those who value, respect and utilize the concept.”

How does the Barter Unit benefit people?

“Well, first, the Barter Unit gives people, specifically poor people, more purchasing power than they would otherwise have. If members of a community are experiencing a shortage of the official currency, they can utilize the barter unit to obtain access to vital goods and services they may need. You see, we are the richest country in America, yet we have thousands of homeless people and thousands of immigrants who are financially disparaged. We have a currency system in full effect, that works only for the rich and not the working class and the poor. A system in which causes and sustains inequality, class, debt, accumulation and exclusion. However, when you have a currency system, such as the Barter Unit community currency system, that does not marginalize financially disadvantage people, that does not socially exclude people, such as the homeless, immigrants or the unemployed, then you have a system that works for everyone, then you have a system that makes people feel socially relevant regardless of their socioeconomical status.”

So, you’re saying the current financial system doesn’t work?

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. For various reasons that are self-evident, such as political corruption, corporate greed and to some extent government intervention, the system does not work for the working class and the poor. The system is failing at an alarming and terrifying rate in many respects.”

And the Barter Unit community currency system will work in solving these issues you just now mentioned? Meaning, how is it different from the existing financial system?

“Yes, it will work. It will solve many existing financial issues we all experience in today’s economy. Let’s look at the barter unit for what it is intended to be, it’s an alternative source of capital designed specifically to help people meet their basic necessities in life. In short, utilizing the Barter Unit is one way of ensuring life goes on in hard economic times. Of course, participation is important. The more people who adopt and respect the barter unit, as an alternative form of currency, the more economically valuable the barter unit then becomes. Also, and it’s important I say this, the barter unit is not designed to replace any government-sponsored currency, but rather supplement the national currency. It is designed to run parallel with all government-sponsored currencies.”

“How is it different you ask? Well, in many ways its immensely different. First, we and not a banking or credit institution that causes and sustains debt. We do not practice or encourage debt methodologies. We are a debt-free community. Secondly, the system is designed to prevent various types of exclusions. For example, as I just mentioned, anyone one regardless of your socioeconomical status, can register and be part of the BarterUnit community. If you’re homeless, an immigrant, unemployed, or employed, you can join. Third, as far as I know, we are the only full spectrum barter-exchange marketplace with an embedded community currency system in the United States. So, we differ in the sense that we have established our very own unique economy, an economy that works for everyone. It’s a separate economy with electronic digital currency, that can be moved from wallet to wallet without commercial banks standing in the middle.”

Do you anticipate any challenges in terms branding and recruiting?

“Challenges are a by-product of any startup. I think the biggest challenge for me is instilling awareness. People have become so routinized and mechanized in their daily lives that they have become mindless of alternative currencies. I believe that once we properly educate people, they will understand and possible accept Barter Units as an alternative form of currency. Building trust is another challenge we face, but, again, I believe once people are enlightened and become a Barter Unit participant, there are endless possibilities in terms of creating and sustaining better living standards and community spirit. Poverty is not an easy concept to tackle, so various challenges are expected.”

Hypothetically speaking, if the Barter Unit goes viral, are you prepared for possible criticism and possible government intervention?

“Yes, we’re definitely prepared. Everyone will have an opinion of course, constructive or otherwise and that’s okay. As for government intervention, we’re not concern with that, simply because we are confident, we are structuring this project accordingly. But yes, it is possible governments will attempt to intervene and regulate, even if it means regulating a fraction of the Barter Unit system. On top of that, I would imagine governments would go to great lengths to dissect the BarterUnit system and attempt to find some sort of legal reason, some sort of state or federal legality for intervention. I think that overall when you have such a development that consist of certain intricacies of this extent, it’s to be expected. At the top of my head, I can list several government branches that would no doubt try to intervene and argue that it’s a security, or that it’s a commodity, or its money and property and therefore should be taxed. So yes, we anticipate intervention in the long run, but right now our goal is to help people the best way we can, and that’s to help them survive a broken economy.”

In one sentence, can you tell us what the BarterUnit mission is?

“To make people’s lives better and to make people feel relevant every single day.”