About MoE

Means of Exchange looks at how emerging, everyday technologies can be used to democratise opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, rebuild local community and promote a return to local resource use, leading us to a better, fairer, more locally-connected world.


” We pay too little attention to the reserve power of the people to take care of themselves. We are too solicitous for government intervention, on the theory, first, that the people themselves are helpless, and second, that the government has superior capacity for action. Often times both of these conclusions are wrong

- Calvin Coolidge

It’s only when things go wrong that we question the systems which regulate, control and dominate our lives. We live in a time of great economic uncertainty. Millions of people around the world have lost jobs, homes, businesses, independence and purpose. Millions more face growing uncertainty and insecurity. Many hard working people have been hard hit. In the greater scheme of things they’re simply collateral damage in the rebalancing of a larger, broken world economic system.

The system is broken. Long live the system.

While it’s impossible for most of us to reduce our exposure entirely from the global economy, there are things many of us can do to lessen our dependence on it. Funnily enough it’s something our ancestors managed to do pretty well. It’s called self-sufficiency.

But before you dismiss this as hippy-style “grow-your-own vegetables on village allotments”, more meaningful economic self-sufficiency is possible if people are creative in how they earn, trade and share with one another. As money has taken over as our primary means of exchange, other more traditional methods have been lost.

What we’ve been left with is not only an economic system few people understand but one we have little control over, a loss of community and a drift away from the consumption of locally produced goods and services.

But all is not lost. The slide can be halted, and by using the very technologies which enable us to take part in a globalised society, it can be reversed.

If you’re one of a growing number of people interested in how we might achieve economic self-sufficiency, or you wonder what impact the current economic system is having on communities around the world, or you’re curious about the kinds of tools and resources that can help you rebuild yours wherever you are, then Means of Exchange is for you.

We’ll be looking at how a combination of everyday technologies and human ingenuity can be used to democratise opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, rebuild local community and promote a return to local resource use. We’ll encourage new thinking, build new tools and take a fresh look at the public messaging behind local economic empowerment schemes to help make them more inclusive, simple, relevant, fun and engaging in today’s social media-driven world.

Many of these ideas are not new, it’s just that no-one has successfully solved many of them yet. Not surprisingly, we’ll not come up with the answers overnight. These are complex, deep-rooted, difficult problems and it’ll take time. But if you’re up for a challenge and believe in a fairer, better locally-connected world, then please join us. We won’t be able to do this without you.

And in the wider spirit of sharing, you can also follow us on Twitter, or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Thank you. Welcome to Means of Exchange!

” Control your own destiny, or someone else will “

- Jack Welch

The team

Ken Banks
Concept, design, project management, software development

Ken is the Founder of kiwanja.net and devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change in the developing world. He has worked at the intersection of technology, anthropology, conservation and development for the past twenty years and, during that time, has lived and worked across the African continent. He is a PopTech Fellow, a Tech Awards Laureate, an Ashoka Fellow and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and has been internationally recognised for his technology-based work. Ken is also a published author, with his first edited book, “The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator”, released in late 2013. His latest project, Means of Exchange, looks at how everyday technologies can be used to democratise opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, rebuild local community and promote a return to local resource use.

Further details of Ken’s work are available on his website at www.kiwanja.net

Lilian Ricaud
Social media, research and outreach

Open collaboration expert, digital nomad and music lover, Lilian has worked and taught in France, the UK, India and Senegal and currently lives in France. Originally trained as a plant biologist, he worked in top research labs in France and the UK (INRA, CEA, University of Cambridge) and his work has been published in several scientific journals. In 2005, he left academia to study new open collaboration practices emerging online and in 2008 he started freelancing, teaching and advising organisations on the use of open collaboration practices, social media tools and user-centered design. Since 2009, Lilian has been interested in the role of money in shaping social architecture and has been studying complementary currencies as alternative means to promote exchange and co-operation. His current interests include stigmergic collaboration, open innovation, placemaking and he is working on building a co-creative events pattern language as a tool to help communities self-organise and cooperate.

Further details of Lilian’s work are available on his website at www.lilianricaud.com

Alice Brennan
Research and website content

Alice graduated from Oxford University with a BA in anthropology and archaeology in 2009, and currently lives in Tokyo. Before moving to Japan Alice worked as a consultant for London-based Techlightenment, a social media technology company that helps global companies create and implement innovative online campaigns. Alice briefly worked as a teacher in Japan until March 2011 when the country was struck by a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that devastated the coast and caused the Fukushima Nuclear disaster. Alice volunteered with Peace Boat’s Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV) providing humanitarian aid in the affected region, after which she became the International Corporate Social Responsibility and Fundraising Coordinator at the PBV headquarters in Tokyo. In this role Alice has been responsible for rallying support for the ongoing crisis amongst the international business community in Japan and throughout the rest of the world. PBV’s work includes economic development projects, psychosocial care, hot meal distribution and mud clearance. The success of PBV has been documented in the book “奇跡の災害ボランティア石巻モデル” (“The Miracle Ishinomaki Disaster Volunteer Model”).

Further information about this ongoing work can be found on the PBV website at http://peaceboat.org/relief

Alicia Kidd
Local currency research

In 2010, Alicia graduated from The University of Manchester with a BSocSc in Social Anthropology. She then worked as a researcher for ‘Act the Facts’, an educational scriptwriting company, before undertaking an internship with the British Council in New Delhi. Since then she has been travelling the world alone, making it to twelve countries across Asia and the South Pacific, stopping in a few places to do voluntary work. Her volunteering has included disaster relief in Japan after the 2011 tsunami, working in Thailand with young lesbians whose sexuality is widely unaccepted, and interning with an Indian company which helps to provide education to children growing up in slums. She has been writing about some of her experiences around the world, which have gone on to be printed in various publications including the JET handbook, the Peaceboat website and South East Asia Backpacker Magazine. She is currently living in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she is a volunteer in a women’s refuge and an intern with South East Asia Backpacker Magazine.

Alicia blogs her thoughts and “worldwide wanderings” at bitecreamandbandages


Means of Exchange was made possible thanks to the kind support of friends at Little Fish.

Means of Exchange Limited is a company registered in the United Kingdom, number 08087355.

Means of Exchange at Pop!Tech

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Community Tweets

MoE said: The ‘dirty girls’ inspiring their community to become more #sustainable and healthy by growing nourishing food. http://t.co/TL6LwnNCLu Tweeted on 02 Oct
MoE said: Mending library repairs clothes and connects people in San Francisco. http://t.co/Du4yRn2hma @shareable #community #skidrow Tweeted on 02 Oct
MoE said: Five innovative ways to share in Amsterdam. http://t.co/cRPigvOKqQ @compareandshare @PositiveNewsUK #sharingeconomy Tweeted on 02 Oct
MoE said: 120-yr old Kyoto machiya transformed into recycled goods wonderland. http://t.co/fZ78WcvXJJ @spoontamago #upcycle #japan Tweeted on 02 Oct
MoE said: How smart phones connect vulnerable people with vital support and combat social exclusion. http://t.co/lgmt5Nge6H @GuardianSustBiz Tweeted on 01 Oct
MoE said: Does a cashless economy make for a surveillance state? #1984 #£1984 http://t.co/Soe24wpkFK @GuardianSustBiz Tweeted on 01 Oct