TRADERS in Bristol have given the thumbs-up to the new unique currency which was launched three months ago.
Alex Poulter, owner of East Bristol Bakery in St Mark's Road, Easton, said a significant number of customers were using the Bristol Pound to buy produce from his shop.
He said: "We've definitely benefited from the new currency. People know we are the sort of company which has a local, independent ethos and this fits in with the aims of the Bristol Pound to help traders like ourselves."
Pam Buckle, who runs Wild Oats, a health food shop in Lower Redland Road, said they had been spurred to sign up because of the number of people who were using the currency to pay for goods. She said: "We've been accepting the pounds although we hadn't officially signed up.
"But we have had such a lot of interest, we decided to register. We think it's a lovely idea because it's keeping Bristol money in Bristol."
Ollie Chandler, manager of Blackboy Cycles, said making payments by mobile phone was much more popular than using the new money.
John Hagon, manager of Reg the Veg in Boyces Avenue, Clifton, has just signed up to the new currency.
He said: "We agree with the ethos of it to encourage people to spend their money locally in independent shops instead of supermarkets.
"From what I've heard, it's doing well in other parts of the city and I just hope it takes off here."
More than 500 traders are now using the Bristol Pound since it was launched in September and £100,000 of the new currency is already in circulation.
It is predicted the currency will reach a one million pound turnover within its first year of operation.
Ciaran Mundy, a director of the Bristol Pound community interest company, said: "People are meeting and talking about the Bristol Pound as a way to support each other in harder economic times.
"It helps spread the idea of how great it can feel to live in such a diverse city where people act together for positive change."
Mark Burton, of the University of Bristol, and Bristol Pound technical delivery director, said: "The numbers so far are compelling – with £B100,000 in circulation we can estimate some of the likely benefits, based on Europe's largest similar local currency scheme, Germany's Cheimgauer."
Sign-up sessions to open accounts for the Bristol Pound are held every Wednesday, 12.30 pm-2.30 pm at the entrance to the Corn Exchange.
You can use the new currency – £B1, £B5, £B10 or £B20 notes – in any shop that has signed up to the scheme to buy goods or produce.
As the notes are equivalent to sterling, they are interchangeable with ordinary money. If an item costs, for example, £2.47, then your change would include normal coins. If you paid in sterling, you could ask for any notes in your change to be given in the new currency.
For people who open an account with the Bristol Credit Union, then you can pay by using your mobile phone or internet. You simply send a text to Bristol Pound to make a payment by using your PIN number, the business username and the amount to be paid. A reply will be sent within five-10 seconds to you and the trader to say the transaction is complete.
The new currency can be exchanged for sterling but there is a three per cent exchange fee.