Any time we talk about a funding strategy, or a financial model, this is really code language for embedding ourselves in a credit system. Money today is credit. All of our conventional sources of funding, whether dollars or euros or yen, come into existence through a giant credit facility otherwise known as the banking system. This is now a single, globally integrated, globally homogenous system. We tend to think of banks as the power, the engines of money, but they’re not. Money’s circulation is powered by our acceptance of it in the payment of goods and services, and this is a distributed phenomenon throughout the network of veins and arteries of the economy. A monetary system collapses not when banks collapse, but when people stop accepting the money.
What if the financial model would be bioinspired. Applying biomimicry to financial architecture, or the architectures of exchange. Offering a new language, longer timeframe, wider lens, and better-rooted framework overall for thinking about system design. To finally step outside the narrow conceptual models of finance that are currently sinking our collective ship. How would nature design a financial system?
A global permaculture of community credit systems emerging on the ground, from the bottom up, below the canopy of established finance. These systems, which could also be called community-based mutual credit systems, are consistent with biological design principles in all the ways bank credit is not. They are bottom-up, locally attuned and adapted, decentralized, diverse, self-organized, iterative and modular – in short, everything we dream of from a biological design perspective.
Perhaps most important, these systems are not premised on quantitative expansion; instead, we could say they are premised on qualitative expansion, with quantitative stability over time. This is consistent with the design of mature biological systems and the phase our species is moving into now, as we reach the limits to our own growth. Like the natural world itself, the community credit landscape is diverse and dynamic and will never be fixed in a single pattern. There are now thousands of these worldwide, but they are not yet interoperable with each other. The next great design challenge facing the system engineers in this space is to develop import/export software extensions and protocols that would be compatible with each of the major systems currently used. We can think of community credit as another aspect of the maker movement, which the biomimicry community has been following because we’re interested in the development of localized 3D printing. The maker phenomenon can happen in any sector, however, not just manufacturing. The technologies of community credit are to financial architecture what 3D printing is to manufacturing. In both cases, these are breakthrough technologies that are already proven but not yet mass market; they localize and democratize our economic processes; and they open up new dimensions of biomimetic potential that weren’t previously available in either realm, production or credit creation.