How can a society function without money?

All interactions that include receiving goods and services require a means of compensation. That compensation is usually in the form of money. As a legal tender, it refers to the methods of payment sanctioned by governments across the globe.

To set a value to commodities or services, people use money. The generally accepted value of money is determined by many factors, such as supply and demand, or foreign exchange rates. There are various kinds of money and currencies. Currency refers to a unit of money used in a specific country. Although there can be multiple currencies in circulation in a country, there is usually one main currency accepted by all institutions and businesses.

Money can take numerous forms. We have paper money, coins, electronic money and even cryptocurrencies. We have come to a point where we can’t imagine our lives without money… or can we..?

Back to the basics of the bartering system

Ever since the dawn of civilisations, people have conducted all trade in the form of a bartering system. No matter what kind of services or goods you require, you have to give something in return, usually something of value to the other party. Many would claim that this is a fair and a just way of conducting business as all parties end up with much-needed resources and goods.

However, the whole process is indeed cumbersome and takes a lot of time to complete. This was the reason why people looked for alternative ways of designating a value for commodities and services, and that is how money in the form of coins was brought to life.

Cryptocurrencies at work

Creating blockchain technology is another bold attempt to reshape the system of payments and trade. Blockchain technology gave rise to cryptocurrencies which represent digital currencies that can be implemented into everyday transactions. Cryptocurrencies can prove to be a viable alternative to money since a lot of transactions today happen online, and with the advent of technology, we can almost entirely reduce the need for paper money and thus use cryptocurrencies and digital money for all our transactions. In China, e-wallets— banking applications that allow you to pay for goods just by scanning your phone, are widely used and appreciated.

Abandon it altogether

There are radical examples of people trying to live without money entirely. The most notable example is that of Heidemarie Schwermer from Germany, who made a choice 14 years ago to live without money. Her story is captured in a documentary where she describes how she trades her services, such as cleaning one’s apartment or cooking in exchange for food and housing. Her inspiring story does sound a bit suspicious, but, she has proved it feasible.

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