Vice Magazine Discovers Brixton Pounds (But Should've Talked to Spear's First)

Vice tried to buy drugs using Brixton Pounds. A basic error: BitCoins would have been far more effective.

Vice made a trip down to Brixton to learn more about the Brixton Pound – a local currency, whose £10 notes carry a picture of Brixton boy David Bowie rather than the Queen, which was set up to try and boost spending within Brixton's local economy.

I headed to Brixton in August last year while investigating whether printing different money could be a solution to some of the UK’s financial woes. The answer, strangely, is yes: alternative currencies like WIR in Switzerland, as well as barter exchanges, have helped boost small businesses at times, like now, when mainstream bank financing is hard to come by.

The organisers of the Brixton Pound have yet to research whether their project has boosted local spending, but it has generated lots of positive advertising for a part of London that’s tended to get a lot of bad press.

The writers at Vice decided to try and buy drugs with Brixton Pounds, which it must be said, makes for quite a funny piece on funny money, if you can handle the slightly coy references to ‘a number I found on my phone after a party one morning’ for buying A-class drugs.

Needless to say, they didn’t succeed. For such streetwise hacks, it was a basic error. Even Spear's could have told them that BitCoins are a far better, and more popular, option if you want to buy drugs with alternative currencies. 

Maybe I’m just too uptight, but I have never once woken up the morning after the night before and ‘found’ a drug dealer's number on my phone. But that’s why I used Brixton Pounds to buy a mint tea. And even felt a little bit buzzy afterwards. 

Read more by Sophie McBain

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