Scotcoin: Meet Scotland's digital currency, trading in a pub near you

CommonSpace interviews Scotcoin project director Willie Fleming about the potential for a Scottish digital currency to boost the local enconomy

Watch: CommonSpace reporter Alice Muir watches a demonstration of Scotcoin in action at the Arlington Bar in Glasgow

DURING the Scottish 2014 independence referendum, there was much debate and scepticism around whether an independent Scotland would use pound sterling as its national currency, or whether it would join the Euro. As the campaign for independence heated up, venture capitalist and Scotcoin founder Derek Nisbet’s vision for a Scottish digital currency evolved.

The currency issue is back on the agenda this week after the Sunday Herald revealed that the SNP is considering the creation of a ‘Scottish Pound’ in an independent Scotland. But while the SNP considers its options, others in Scotland have been pursuing different avenues, one of which is cryptocurrency Scotcoin.

A ‘cryptocurrency’, also known as a ‘digital currency’, is traded without the use of physical coins or notes. All transactions using digital currencies are made online, similar to online banking. The popularity of digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, has risen in recent years. For example, the value of a single Bitcoin has skyrocketted to £513 at the current rate.

Over the past 12 months, the team of programmers at the Scotcoin project have been developing a number of initiatives designed to increase the understanding, acceptability and usage of Scotcoin as a means of payment for an increasing range of goods and services.

Aims of the project include informing and educating Scottish people and their friends about cryptocurrencies. Its mission is to promote and assist with the creation of additional economic activity within Scotland, through the use of Scotcoin as the nation’s digital currency.

CommonSpace caught up with project director Willie Fleming to find out more about Scotcoin, and how it can be incorporated into people’s day-to-day lives.

How would you describe Scotcoin in its simplest form?

Scotcoin is an electronic form of money, known as a ‘cryptocurrency’. It is a token of exchange in an electronic format. Scotcoin simplifies and codifies trading electronically.

One of the main questions regarding Scottish independence is what currency an independent Scotland would use. I see no real reason why that currency shouldn’t be a cryptocurrency.

The potential of the Scotcoin is in the hands of the people. It is the people who will determine the value of a Scotcoin and what the people choose to do with this new technology is up to them.

Most people who hold Scotcoins are aware that if they distribute the coins to friends and ultimately get the coins into more hands, then the value of the coin rises. Similarly, if the utility of the coin rises then the value of the coin rises.

What is the point in a regional cryptocurrency? Aren’t cryptocurrencies supposed to be decentralised?

The thing about the Scotcoin is that people will be interested in it simply because it contains the word ‘Scot’. It encourages localism as people are more likely to trade locally if they are using the Scotcoin. By trading locally we keep our wealth local. Global cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin concentrate wealth in just a few hands, much like any global currency. If we assume that economic activity is good because we are using Scotcoin, people will be more likely to buy Scottish produce. By trading locally we also progress in making the world a greener environment as less shipping and importation is involved.

See also: Exclusive: mystery group of US traders apply to create independent Scottish Exchange

How can Bitcoin traders increase the value of a Scotcoin?

Individual people can increase the value of the Scotcoin by using the coin in everyday use. The more people who use the Scotcoin, the more valuable it will become.

What people have to remember with regards to the Scotcoin is that the value of anything is only what we perceive it to be. Therefore it is up to the people who will use the Scotcoin to determine the value of the coin.

We aim to make the Scotcoin cheaper and easier to use than Sterling. For example, similar to credit card transactions, there is a small fixed transaction fee involved whenever you make a Scotcoin transaction. As it currently stands, it is half the price to bank with Scotcoins than it is to use the majority of credit card providers.

As an incentive to encourage more people to trade using Scotcoins, We will be offering Scottish startup businesses loans of up to one million Scotcoins (roughly £2,000). We also have startup offices that can be rented out to people who wish to trade in Scotcoin.

Can we see Scotcoin listed in foreign currency exchange retailers anytime soon?

Most definitely. There have been developments around that with plans for a Scotcoin cafe to open in Glasgow in the very near future. Not only will customers be able to come in and spend their Scotcoins but they will also be able to exchange their Scotcoins for pound sterling.

Are there any retailers in Glasgow that take Scotcoin?

Yes, you can go into the Arlington Bar on Woodlands Road and buy a pint of their home brewed beer using Scotcoin.

If you’d like to try using Scotcoin, follow these steps

1.)  Download the IndieSquare app on your smartphone and follow the setup instructions for Scotcoin within the app. The app will provide you with a unique QR code which you will need to scan whenever you make a transaction.

2.)  Drop into The Arlington bar on Woodlands Road in Glasgow and ask for a pint of their home-brewed beer. Make sure to ask in advance if you can pay for it using Scotcoin.

3.)  The Arlington will then provide you with a device in which you can scan your IndieSquare QR code. Once the QR code has been scanned the transaction will have been made.

Photo courtesy of The Scotcoin Project

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