Chiemgauer is the name of a regional currency which was issued in 2003 in Prien am Chiemsee, Bavaria, Germany. Christian Gelleri, a high school teacher, started this project with his students, which he put in charge of design, printing, administration, accounting, advertising and other services. Currently, he is part of the national network of regional currencies in Germany (RegioNetzwerk). Restaurants, bakeries, hairdressers and supermarkets all accept the local currency in the Euro free zone, which includes more than half a million people. To this date, 600 companies and 300 stores use Chiemgauer.
The operating principle is as follows: bills of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 Chiemgauers are issued. Each is equivalent to 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 Euros respectively. To maintain its circulation, a ''scrip'' that corresponds to 2% of the banknote's value must be paid every three months. For example, consumers exchange €100 for 100 Chiemgauers to support an association without having to donate. They can then spend it in local shops, at parity with the euro. Stores that accept Chiemgauer can use it for their own purchases or resell it at €95 for a 100 Chiemgauer bill. The loss is agreed on because these shops earn the customer's business by participating in the program.
The Chiemgauer is a singular application of the local currency system. The operating principle through which it is managed is called oxidation, which is a kind of tax to promote the circulation of banknotes. It was invented by Silvio Gesell. The depreciation of the currency encourages in fact consumption and investment at the expense of hoarding.
In addition to jobs that the Chiemgauer has generated (students are employed for this service, which means that they get paid), the local currency also makes it possible to:
- promote cultural, educational and environmental activities: the Chiemgauer system supports associations working for such causes.
- promote sustainable development: organic food, renewable energy.
- strengthen solidarity: strengthening the ties between shops, businesses and local consumers.
- Stimulate the local economy: Chiemgauer supports the purchasing power within a region (better than the Euro), by promoting small local businesses and by boosting transactions through the oxidation principle.
The regional currency, the Chiemgauer, is one of the 16 regional currencies that have emerged in Germany and Austria. Approximately fifty other local currencies are currently in the planning stage or being introduced.