For a brief shining moment in banking history, philanthropic rewards were considered the next new thing. Affinity card programs were hot and the “feel good” factor was promoted front and center through cashback programs designed to give back to certain causes. But as the economy softened and then sank, many consumers left charities by the wayside as they focused on keeping afloat in tough times. Yet, from time to time, local economic ecosystems popped up and have tried to reimagine payments as a means of building and supporting sound, local economies, such as BerkshireShares, profiled here.
The latest such venture is playing out across the country in California, as discussed in an article from The Bay Citizen:
Hesse, a Bernal Heights resident and self-described “banking executive in recovery,” launched the Bernal Bucks program a little more than a year ago to give the community more control over its economic destiny. The incentive and rewards program, with the Bernal Bucks debit card, helps to create a culture change around money. Not only should people be thinking about buying local, Hesse said, but they also should be thinking more deeply about the economics of banking and spending.
“Bernal Bucks is rewarding local people who want to do the right thing to do it more often,” he said.
Through Bernal Bucks, shoppers can donate all or part of their 5 percent rebate to the PTA at their local schools, the local library or the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.
Part Occupy Wall Street, part giving back, plus local small business support, alternative currencies like these don’t have national appeal and won’t keep the card networks up at night. But they do serve to point out the fact that there are consumers who think carefully about spending and that is a takeaway for debit product developers. Consumers want to know more and more about where and how and to whom they are spending their money. Perhaps that’s the new “feel good” factor.
Click here to read more from The Bay Citizen.