FAQ on RGT (by Horacio Covas) 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

  1. What is a Barter Club?
  2. Barter Clubes in Argentina
  3. Whom is this system for?
  4. What are Nodos?
  5. What are the problems you've seen so far?-
  6. How are credits «issued» ?
  7. What is the endorsement for «credits»?
  8. What kind of legal value do the «credits» have?
  9. How is it possible to related with other institutions or enterprizes?
  10. How to join?
  11. Is it possible to start the experiment lonelily?
  12. How is the price of a product of service settled in credits?
  13. How do you know that something worths 1 credit and something else 5?
  14. Does there existe some kind of analogy with the market prices?
  15. Is the value settled in credits according to the offer and demand inside the Network?
  16. What should I do to offer and receive a list of offered products?
  17. Do you pay tax for the exchanges in the network?

What is a Barter Club?

It's a groups of "prosumers," term coined by the futurologist Alvin Toffler, on his book «The Third Wave» (1979) which defines those who are, at the same time, producers and consumers of goods and services.

In case of barter clubs, this double role is concretized through exchanging products and services by way of multireciprocal barter where neither money nor direct barter, but vouchers called credits are used.

These groups don't have politicai, religious or any other kind of identification than that of being formed up of prosumers.

The barter as a tool: originally the term barter is used for the exchange of products between two persons, without the presence of money.

This mechanism is so old as the human being themselves, represents the most primitive commercial activity of the humanity and, by being done by two persons, it's called as a reciprocal barter.

In case of the modern barter clubs the concept acquires new demensions and characteristics. In fact, it's about the multireciprocal barter. This means that every prosume brings to the network this products and, in return, takes out of it the products offered by the very network to cover some of their unsatisfied needs.

This mechanism of alternative economy doesn't try to replace the formal economy everybody tries to be part of. On the contrary, its goal is to be a complement for those who, being partially or totally out of the formal economy due to diverse circumstances, can get time and job to improve their situation acting wholly as prosumers.

Barter Clubes in Argentina

In Argentina, the first Barter Club was born in Bernal, Quilmes City, Provincia de Buenos Aires, in April 1995. As of the end of 1997 this country has some 400 clubs with more than 100,000 members.

These clubs are interconncted to form a big global network at the national level. The growing success of Barter Clubs in Argentina is promising as it suggests explosive growth in the next years.

In short, and remembering Toffler's words, we can assure you that «This is a return to the origines, revalorization and reconceptualization of the life itself»

Whom is this system for?

The project is for all those who need and can offer something.

We mean that a condition to belong to the Network is that of being «prosumers», or producers and consumers at the same time.

Generally people start offering very simple products, like foods and clothes, and they progress toward more complex activities, like venture businesses.

What are Nodos?

The different barter Clubes are related between themselves to form a Network system, so each club started to be considered as «nodo»(meaning knot in English) of the Network, taking the concepts of the Computer Science. We can say «nodo» is the name of the «clubes» which are interconnected in the Networkd. Why do we talk of the Network? Because it's the exchange space for all the prosumers, here we are free from problems of belongings or titles. The Network is of, for and wih everybody. It is a place of social inclusion and contention where the distribution an the recipricity is offered, stimulating the equity in the chances to give and take.

What are the main problems you've seen so far?-

Lack of correct information on the services of RGT. Some people approach us hoping to gain money or formal employment. It's true you can find business in the Network, but it's also true that everybody has to generate it, not the Nodo. With this business you can gain credits which allow you to acquire products and services of the Network, letting you save pesos.-

Lack of personal growth in the group:

Another problem of which people get out of RGT is that they join only Bazars, and after that they feel themselves isolated. This problem can be improved by joining Quality groups or other activities of the Nodo, including with the variety of offers of available training program in the Network.-

Problems of variety and/or quality of the products and services or the failure to submit. Usually these can be solved by joining quality and enterprising self help groups.-

Offer of Products and Services of law demand. This is one of the causes which affect the offerer, so it's important that the group help the member to find alternatives to offer not to feel themselves frustrated by the isolation.-

Lack of training to sustain the three skills: enterprising capacity, solidarity and political capacity.

Your will is necessary, but isn't enough.

How are credits «issued» ?

The exchange tools are created and assigned by the very users.

Given that exchanges increase gradually, it's necessary to raise the circulant too.

This requisite is satisfied with the successive delivery of credits inside the members of each nodo, zone or the whole Network, assuring its distribution in the most equitative way. Nobody's obliged to issue credits or accept them.

Whoever accepts credits must know that they did it under their total responsibility because both the system and its members are confidable. You must know that in the Network there's no superior hierarchy you can resort to to validate your claim in this sense.

What is the endorsement of the «credits»?

There's no need to endorse, because in fact each member, receiving a merit by the loan of a certain quantity of credit, isn't a holder of a value, but a users of a service which stops when they go out of the system. In this case they are obliged to return the same sum of credits they had received and they can't claim for the rest of the value.

Nor people in charge of issuing credits are their owners. Even in case the whole members of the club take up the responsibility on the credits, they'll be no more than providers and receivers of a service which will die out without legal or economic consequences when they decide to finish.

What kind of legal value do the «credits» have?

The credits used in RGT are neither a tool nor a document. They have no worth nor juridical consequences.

This implies that nobody can appeal credits' value before judges for any kind of demand.

So they are neither a promise nor a payment tool, they have no cancelatory forces. Its possession gives you no rights to claim nor is a credit on a group, society or market, as is the case of legal tenders.

.How is it possible to related with other institutions or enterprizes?

If we notice that we're in the Network, we must make our relations as better as possible between the different institutions not to generate the fallacy that RGT is an alternative movement.

The design of the project is done to play a win-win game with those who believe in this.

We're doing the best to revitalize our relations with the formal market, connecting us with enterprizes, beyond national organizations and institutions.

You have to approach to discover what are the barter areas for both.

How to join?

If you want to join an already-working nodo, we recommend you to visit the website of nodos addresses (or barter clubs if you like), and approach (when people come together) to the one you find most convenient.

It's necessarty to tell you that there're some ways to form Clubss. They have been formed of quite a few ways, but today we nkow there're some conditions that facilitate or improve the possibilities that the club work well: that is to keep and follow the goals of the barter announced in the principles.

Generally speaking, to create a Nodo, first of all you need to have a founder core, which is usually characterized by a strong trlationship between its members, with a certain kind of social engagement, maybe members of a community-based organization.

Sometimes, they're those who had some kind of contact with the Network, through TV program or newspaper articles or some people of acquintance which tell them the case.

From this moment, we recommend you to start meeting weekly, to include more members to gain more confidence between you until the sum reaches the critical mass of 15 to 20 people.

From now on you can start making a list of offer or demand of the Club members, in the form of PRODUCTS, SERVICES and KNOWLEDGES each member is ready to offer or take multireciprocally. For example, with the 50 credits you receive when joining a club, A acquire from B empanadas(meat pies) for the worth of 3 credits and gives C a handicraft for the worth of 5.

In this way, there's no need that accounts "clear up" each time. But you need to understand that meeting must be "stimulating" for each member to exchange to help producers of the Nodo. This "effort" represents, after all, the promise to stimulate the production capacity of Nodo members.

It's necessary to say that exchanges happen not always spontaneously, so you have to understand this as new practices we must take into, even at first it seems strange...

If you want to re-invent the Market, as we suggest on the title, we must be encouraged to do things in "another" way! We can have the false idea that transactions are minimal, but what's important is that everything proves that the system works.

Currently, we recommend, if possible, not to separate the meetings of "flea market" and "training."

The Nodo Obelisco is starting an attractive system to combine permanently the two activities, there're much more visitors who come to "learn" the method to bring it to their own Nodos. This is one of the merits to operate in the Network.

There's no problem of belonging. The Network is of, for and with everybody. Sometimes we meet each other a lot a week... and this is the amplified family offered by the Network.

Is it possible to start the experiment lonelily?

Evidently it's possible. In fact everything started so everywhere But it's also true that practices show us that there're some situations which have repeated frequently and that can be avoided.

Today, we recommend to keep your training activity permanently, together with the Flea market. For this reason there're some VTRs, we're editing publications with exercises and tools for different skills. What's important is that, without killing the creativity, you try to avoid some repeated troubles others already have solved.

There're different kind of institutional assessments, like that of Secretariat of Social Promotion of the Government of Buenos Aires City and other organizations of the third sector which have decided to start closed experiments first of all in vulnerable communities. After that these experiments will be integrated to the Network.

How is the price of a product of service settled in credits?

It's settled by the producer, taking quite often the formal market to refer to. In Argentina we're making use of this "stable" period of convertibility to establish a double relation, that of credit with the official money and the worth of the product with the market price. In both cases they're referencial data because we know some market prices are subsidized without reflecting the just price, so each one of us should study the internal costs and the way to improve them to make a base for the exchange rate. The tax aspect is also important to contemplate in this stage.

How do you know that something worths 1 credit and something else 5?

This questions has something to do with the previous one.

For me a liter of detergent, for example, costs 1 credit because the bottle costs 10 centavos and other tickets, the cost takes 40 centavos a liter and the rest is our work including elaboration, sorting out, transportation and distribution. For a paintor or a poet something else will be the way to reach the worth but among the common sense and the communication code managed by the community.

Does there existe some kind of analogy with the market prices?

Deducing from the base that credits are the unit of the all(=social money) and that this economy of reciprocity isn't parallel but complementary of the formal one, yes there's an anology with the market prices but not equally. Even the network has no discussion groups which look for the consensus for the "formulas" to establish each values, we manage with heterogenous groups where hunch is more prevailing that what seems just. And in this moments we're with the subject of the "resale" inside the network which provokes a high price of some of the basic goods. This is neutralized with communitary purchases.

Is the value settled in credits according to the offer and demand inside the Network?

What's best would be that values are settled after the discussions of Quality and Self-Help circles by the own producers, looking for the consensus and the common welfare. In fact there're few quality groups which have prospered and what has the power is an individualist criteria which is ambiguous, in some cases it helps to the groups and other cases speculate with the worthes by being the only one in the Club who has this product.

In the nodo La Fabrica when speculative maneuvers are founded and denounced by the members, both PAR and the coordination group does an observation so that this act is inhibited. Sometimes it works, other times the member doesn't come back again.

Gerardo, as the last data I tell you that actually there's no economic formula which have been able to solve the worthes...

I hope networks like ours take more into account these aspects which are the hurdles in building a fair market.

What should I do to offer and receive a list of offered products?

In the Nodo Obelisco there's a notebook made by Salvador with more than 3,000 entries. You can get one there, which is updated approximately every three months.
You can also ask for the publication of your ad in Segundamano, and ask for other ads, in the friday edition of Segundamano(for Buenos Aires metropolitan area)
In the magazine "El Trueque", it's possible to put your ads(in credits),
Finally in the top page of RGT you have a section to put your ads(ads of prosumers)

Do you pay tax for the exchanges in the network?

With the spirit to sum up the information on Sandra's question and to broaden Silvia's interpretation, we transcribe a phrase of the book we wrote with Carlos in 1996:

According to the accountant Dr. Julio César Catharino's opinion, for the interaction inside the network, what's applied for RGT is the legal figure of exchange defined by Dr Raúl Aníbal Etcheverry in his book Economic Commercial Right asw mutual donation. The same would be one of the oldest preeconomic practices of the humanity in terms of tribal troups(similar to a social network), including previous to the reciprocal barter which is more related to exchanges between tribes.

The incipient division of social work in our network is more like the mutual donation than modern barter by States and enterprizes with notorious technical financial capacity.

The figure of mutual donations, is contemplated in the article 1819 of Civil Code, defined as that of a single and same reciprocal act by two people or more.

As for the simultaneity of the act we can refer to Dr. Guillermo Morda's opinion, who affirms, in his Treaty of Civil Right(edition 1990) As for the simultaneity of the act we have Dr. Guillermo Borda's opinion on his Treaty of Civil Right(edition 1990) affirms, as it seems to us, it would be enough with the intellectual simultaneity, or that one which existe anyway that the done donation by A to B is for the other by B to A, even they are documented as separated acts.

In this sense Dr. Julio Cesar Catharino underscores the characteristics of the vouchers inside the multireciprocal barter network:

  • Vouchers don't make up a way of payment.
  • Vouchers are used as an exchange tool inside the solidarity network, so there's no need to pay commission
  • It's totally forbidden to exchange vouchers for money
  • This piece supports the engagement of Mutual Donation

The voucher, in the club, tries to represent something different and alternative to the money, which is the promise done by each one of the members to return in products or services to the solidarity network, giving in this way more possibilities so that more and more people receive merits.

The use of these pieces, was regarded to the effects to get over difficulties of temporality between demands and offers. On other hand the concept of credit, managed in the club, is different than the traditional one as no restrict criteria, based on the patrimonial capacity of the solicitants, without the need to pay the interest rate when returning it.

After more than three years of these concepts, what's clear is that the mutual donation for the civil code must be done no more than once and can be interpreted as commerce when repeated. So in this sense the network doesn't pay tax because there's no political decisions to affect us to the tax payments as in the case of US so we have to go on working to see what judicial decision on this system is given.