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LEU – A new currency for Zurich

Alternative currencies and the need for a more localized, circular economy as well as the
topic of universal basic income have all taken up more and more space in discussions about
the future of our economy. This has sparked the interest of our Expert Group and thankfully,
we were able to invite just the right guest speaker to give us insights from a hands-on
project tackling those topics, Malik El Bay.

At the 2022 data innovation alliance expert day that took place on the 9 th of November at
the Gleisarena in Zurich, the Expert Group “Blockchain Technology in Interorganisational
Collaboration” had the opportunity to learn about LEU. The LEU is a blockchain-based
currency and at the same time also a basic income that one receives by actively participating
in the community. Although the LEU is based on blockchain technology, it has little to do
with speculative cryptocurrencies: In order to receive the LEU, you have to meet regularly
with members of the community. You can spend the LEU in local businesses in Zurich to
promote the local economy.

Malik guided the Expert Group through the overview of LEU. First, he introduced the
Polkadot and Kusama ecosystem, which forms the backbone of the currency by providing
the security. Encointer (The chain, which LEU runs on), is a Parachain of Kusama and profits
from the shared security that the Kusama validators provide.
Coining a new currency that is distributed as a basic income comes with the challenge of
checking that one person can only receive one income per distribution round. To ensure
this, the LEU is distributed only to attendants of real-life meetings. Encointer plans to
expand by finding communities all over the world that want to implement their own local
currencies. The current experiment with LEU in Zurich is attracting attention from media
outlets and users and is gaining traction. This has led to a big push in demand for the new
currency which comes with its own challenges that were presented.
The session concluded with a Q&A that brought forward a diverse range of questions.
Whether the question was a technical inquiry or about the potential to fly to different time
zones in order to receive more local currencies, they all spawned enthusiastic discussions.

Because of the highly interesting presentation and the engaged audience, the event was a
big success and surely left many attendants with a new view of what a currency can do for a