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Freecoin: a Decentralised Citizens ENgagement Technology.

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Nesta is an innovation charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. 

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Carlo Vercellone, Francesca Bria, Andrea Fumagalli, Eleonora Gentilucci, Alfonso Giuliani, Giorgio Griziotti, Pierluigi Vattimo.

D-CENT: Managing the commons in the knowledge economy. 30/06/2015






Decentralised Citizens ENgagement Technologies ( D-CENT ) aim at developing large-scale collective platforms to support citizen empowerment. Decentralised and privacy aware digital infrastructures are needed to allow institutions to integrate social feedback from the citizens, and to leverage the potential of the extended society to improve democracy and many aspects of our society.

The experimentation on the Digital Social Currency Pilots, in the D-CENT project, can be conceived as an open-source approach to decentralized complementary currency design.

All our Modern social organizations have either been created during the industrial age, or have been optimized for that environment. That is the case for production, distribution, housing, transport, education, healthcare, governance and political decision making, etc.

The shift from the industrial to the information age requires structural change by definition. In turn, structural change requires structural innovation. There is risk that the old pyramidal decision structures and the established experts become obstacles to the necessary change.

A project like D-CENT starts with the premise that democratic governance will have to adapt in the 21st century by smart use of the information technologies that have become available. It welcomes that civil society in general, and activist communities in particular, can become an important source of social innovations.

What are the tools now available for a community to make decisions, and to organize and coordinate its actions ? For they have the potential to implement the decisions made by the communities and for the communities in a shorter loop than the legacy governance systems. Some new currency designs aim at providing tools that fit those requirements:

The research and development approach proposed follows up on the definition of Freecoin: back in 2011 researchers at had announced their intention to “fork” Bitcoin and develop “Freecoin” with the aim to realize a software toolkit to build and deploy custom cryptographic blockchains.

Having foreseen the success and importance of the Bitcoin project and its underlying cryptographic blockchain technology, the Freecoin initiative doesn’t aim to be a currency in itself, but to be a base for field experimentation and Lean currency design practices based on such technologies.