One school of economic thought goes that anything you can buy costs either time or money – you can save money by using your time to source the cheapest price, or you can save time by forgoing the bargain hunting – but you can't have both. Or so they say.
Time banking is an economic concept that first gained popularity in the nineteenth century. This system replaces cash currency with time currency – instead of using money to purchase goods and services, users exchange their time.
In a traditional time banking system, users perform some task or service, for which they receive a time credit. It is up to the members of the time banking community to decide what their time is worth, for example, one hour of labour might be equivalent to a kilogram of potatoes or a new T-shirt. The American town of Ithaca, New York, still uses a successful time currency service.
For students, the unemployed and other time wealthy, money poor members of society, a time banking system is favourable. Enter the Time/Bank at e-flux.
Time/Bank is an online model that is available to people all around the world. Users can register for free and then advertise their services in the Listing sections. There is no restriction on what sort of service you can provide – some examples include performing handy work, creating art works, acting as a chauffeur and even offering yourself as an escort for a wedding. For each task they perform, users are paid in Hour Notes. They can then use those hour notes to hire someone from the Listings.
The goal of Time/Bank is to create a micro-economy that is not limited by geography and to give users a chance to receive services that they might not otherwise be able to afford. It is a system that is suitable for anyone with a skill to sell and a glut of time.