Imagine a dream of establishing a new currency in order to help your community

Imagine being a group of art students with little, or no, experience in finance. Imagine a dream of establishing a new currency in order to help your community. Imagine that currency to facilitate more than 84 million euro in only six years. This is exactly what Sardex did. 

Sardex was founded in the city of Serramanna, located in Sardinia, Italy. The region is one of the poorest in Italy and has developed from being a shepherd and miners society into becoming an industrial region. Serramanna was hit hard by the financial crisis in 2008 and the instant effect was that hardly anyone was given loans. The lack of capital led to a large number of bankruptcies, which in turn led to high unemployment rates.


One of Sardexs founders, Giuseppe Littera, came to the realization that these companies was still able to produce their services and goods, and people were still able to work. His solution to the financial crisis was of financial nature. He came to the conclusion that the only solution to the crisis was to let companies create their money. This was the embryo to the local currency Sardex.

With little experience in finance or IT, no MBAs and no investors Giuseppe and his team started to develop a brand new currency for Serramanna. They turned to history and found inspiration from both the Bretton Woods system and the Swiss complementary currency WIR.

To understand how Sardex works, you have to abandon much of what you may think you know about money. There is no bank that prints Sardex notes; no algorithm that generates Sardex digital coins. Instead, it functions as a system of mutual credit: each firm begins at zero, earning the digital currency, equivalent to but non-exchangeable with the euro, as it offers goods or services to others in the network. Companies may go into debt but only up to a certain limit, determined by what they can offer the other participating firms.

It was proven to be easier to develop Sardex than to persuade firms to adopt it. The company was registered in 2009 and instantly approached local firms with their idea. Hundreds rejected them, because after all, these firms had to pay their bills in euros. The breakthrough came in 2010 when a local businessman believed he joined an established network. When the businessman asked who else used Sardex they replied: ”Just you, but we will grow!”. 

And so they did, slowly but steady, more and more local firms joined the system and by the end of 2010 Sardex had more than 237 members and a modest transaction volume of 300 000 euro. Even though they had experienced sort of a breakthrough they had to rely on family members to survive.

The tides were changing once again in 2011 when dPixel intrigued their idea. Giuseppe describes the investment of 150 000 euro as a lifeline, securing Sardex survival.

Today, around 2900 businesses are using Sardex, including some of Sardinia’s most established organizations such as the telecommunications company and the island’s main newspaper. The currency has circulated quickly: according to the founders’ figures, it facilitated more than 30m euro in 2015 and about 84m euro since it started. Talk about rapid development!

Sardex is a great example of what might happen when you believe in yourself and your ideas, no matter hos crazy they seem. Your dream is always the start of the journey but Barcamper and dPixel may help you make it true and take it to the next level.

Read more (in Italian) about sardex here!

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