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Geneva’s local currency launches in Lausanne
Shoppers in Lausanne could soon be able to use lémans instead of francs. Photo: Lausanne Tourism

Geneva’s local currency launches in Lausanne

The Local · 10 Jun 2016, 12:20

Published: 10 Jun 2016 12:20 GMT+02:00

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The currency aims to encourage shoppers to buy local products and can already be used in 200 businesses in the Geneva area and neighbouring France that have signed up since it launched in September.

Now the organization behind the project, the Léman Currency Association, wants to extend the currency’s reach to Lausanne, its spokesman Antonin Calderon told the Tribune de Genève.

“We would like to get 100 partners by the end of the year,” he said.

The currency will be launched by the association’s Lausanne members at this weekend’s Festival de la Terre, which promotes slow food and local artisan products.

According to the organization, using the currency creates a spending power for the Lake Geneva region and boosts the local economy in a way that using francs and euros doesn’t always allow.

Speaking to The Local, Jean Rossiaud, president of the association and a Green Party city councillor in Geneva, said the léman was already a success in the Geneva region.

"Since we launched the currency on September 18th, a few months later we have already more than 1,000 members and more than 200 partner businesses and companies."

At first when people asked if a shop or market accepted the new currency "people looked at us a bit funny," he said.

"Today the response is more often 'not yet'"

In order to promote the widespread use of the currency in the region, "we first have to make ourselves known, then make people understand the léman's usefulness for the local economy" he said.

One léman is equal to one euro. The exchange rate between lémans and francs therefore depends on the strength of the franc against the euro.

The currency is available in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 20 lémans.

Francs and euros can already be exchanged for lémans in Geneva, while such a currency exchange facility is set to open in Lausanne during the summer, Calderon told the Tribune.

The organization is also planning to develop electronic lémans and a smartphone app.

Story continues below…

The concept of a local currency has existed since the 1980s.

Around 5,000 exist worldwide, including the Brixton pound and the Bristol pound in the UK and the eusko in the Basque country.

Earlier this year a residents group in the Swiss canton of Valais launched a project to establish their own local currency, the Farinet.

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