Government Technology

Marin County, Calif., Had 'Altcoin' Long Before Bitcoin Came Along



April 3, 2014 By Kristen V. Brown, McClatchy News Service

With all the chatter over bitcoin, Dogecoin and other players in the world of alternative currencies, Point Reyes Station resident Richard Kirschman would like to remind Bay Area residents that Marin County has had its own "altcoin" since long before it was trendy.

Kirschman, president of the Coastal Marin Fund, is of course talking about the Coastal Marin Trade Token, a $3 brass coin in circulation in the 10 towns of coastal Marin County.

The trade token is not exactly a competitor to bitcoin, the decentralized digital peer-to-peer payment system that has recently attracted increased attention. For one, the trade token is not exactly a "currency" - it's a single coin rather than a system of money, and its value is permanently tied to that of the dollar, rather than standing on its own. And unlike crypto-currencies, the goal of the trade token falls a little short of reimagining the global flow of currency.

But there are about 16,000 trade tokens in circulation in Marin County, where they're accepted by many retailers.


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