Community currencies are created worldwide today, to boost regional economies. Japan is of no exception, its interest especially in reviving stagnation of local economies. The stagnation is the result of dropping birth rates, not to mention the centralization of population in urban areas. Therefore, community currencies are now being created to attempt to revitalize regional areas.
Among the lineup of community currencies now created in Japan is a new empathy community e-regional currency called “eumo,” launched by startup eumo Corp. The company has been conducting an experiment to connect urban consumers with regional producers. Eventually, it wants to connect people to eumo affiliated producers nationwide.
What’s unique about eumo is the fact that it puts emphasis on spreading “empathy.” CEO of eumo Corp, Kazuhiro Arai says, “If you go by the rules of the existing economic system, the cheaper your price the better because then it will then sell. But those who are striving hard to produce quality goods get left behind, and honesty won’t pay. Why shouldn’t these people get the attention they deserve?”
Logo of eumo. (Image: eumo.co.jp)
The ultimate goal of eumo, is to strengthen the producers of regional areas. With this experiment, Arai, who used to work in a bank, wants to shape what he calls an “empathetic capital society”. “I want to prove that people will be motivated to use their eumo with the empathy they feel. Someone has to experiment on this or else this society won’t change,” Arai said.
In order to purchase, participants have to visit one of the 23 producers scattered around the country. Included are IKEUCHI ORGANIC in Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture that produces organic quality towels, Alon Alon Orchid Garden in Futtsu City and Chiba Prefecture that produces Phalaenopsis orchids grown by people with disabilities. Along the way, people will deepen interaction with the producers and the surrounding region, which will encourage them to spread empathy to other people.
23 locations in Japan, in an effort to “spread empathy” to these regions. (Image: eumo.co.jp)
Furthermore, even after customers return home, they can continue their relationship with the producers they visited. They will be able to send original stamps of empathy, as well as comment on their experiences on the website. The service will also expire automatically in a short period of 3 months, so money flow is maximized. The expired currency will be returned to participants based on a reduction rate set in accordance to how much they empathized and how long they traveled.
The experiment will continue till Feb. 29, 2020, during which eumo Corp. will verify the feasibility of the service. It will monitor the purchasing behavior of the consumers as well as listen to the producer’s experiences.
The word “eumo” is derived from the Greek word, “eudaimonia,” which means “a contented state of being happy and prosperous.” It seems hopeful that this new community currency could create a sustainable, contented society.
[Website] eumo Website
[Reference] PR TIMES
(This article was originally published on Zenbird Media.)