We’ve discussed the joining fee & application process before in various places … I even suggested we need a recommendation process before, too, to screen out vagrants. Here are some musing on the joining process that BrisLETS could consider at some time in the future when it has the person-power.

But I was thinking today (oh no – Simon’s been thinking again – don’t go there girlfriend!!) … We should make joining and using the system as user-friendly as possible. So let’s scrap this business of The Seller debits the Buyer’s account. I’ve never heard a convincing justification for this, at least not one that outweighs the disadvantage of the confusion it causes for newbies.
Also, people can use any currency in the world without having to ‘join’ anything. And they can use them in a familiar way. So…. how about we *get rid of the joining fee*, but ask for their credit/debit card details or a $ deposit and tell them that on the anniversary of their joining, if their account is in debit, their credit/debit card will be debitted to the same amount (or the same amount of their deposit becomes non-refundable, and the balance returned). If they are in credit, they can sail on without paying any fees (& if they depositted, it is returned to them).
Our Treasurer John Tennock might know of a way to have a pending withdrawal on bank accounts or PayPal accounts for those without credit/debit cards.

Before I field all the ‘what if’s’ – here are the one’s I’ve thought of:

  • It’s still ‘joining’, but well, there’s no way to avoid that… they are joining a great community anyway… and stepping into the alternative economy. Remember, ‘normal’ currency doesn’t mind who you are because it’s mercenary. In fact, I think we should have space on the application form for recommended by ‘so & so’ member that is optional… this shows that it is a community.
  • It’s more of an impediment than just paying $20, and that’s our main income stream. Possibly, for some. So, we could retain that way as an option (at the risk of making it complex). But I don’t think it’s hard for them to understand that they can avoid the fee by contributing as much as they take from the community. I think it’s pretty standard industry practice to entice customers, especially those new to the alternative economy…. and many of them are so used to being incentivized like this, that it could really motivate them to get to know how our exchange works. I’m hoping we can get our $s in other ways; donations, bequests and grants. Our Member Survey found most members want $s to be raised outside the organisation and few support an annual $ donation request. I hope that is indicative of a ‘mentality of poverty’ in our community. I would like to see more members thinking of transfering their $ wealth into our little bit of the alternative economy.
  • It will give new members the impression that they should aim to be in credit and that being in debit is bad. True – probably, initially and this could only be dispelled with education (see below).
  • 12 months might not be feasible. I’d have to check with John; maybe 6 months is possible. Not sure what happens if someone goes into debit and cancels their Ccard… wouldn’t want to hold a Ccard deposit for that long, just their details. For those without Ccards, the deposit would have to be hefty ($100) to be meaningful, I think, because it’s so easy to go into debit on our system.
  • It’ll be too much work for BrisLETS to administer. Possibly. I’d have to ask John… and our CES Website Admin. We’d need an auto reminder of accounts that become 1 year old. Also, the online joining form (and the paper form) would have to be able to accept credit/debit card details. It would be more work for the Treasurer and Membership Secretary. Our Member Survey showed most members are in favour of paying those who work for the BrisLETS (in Units) and that they are willing to pay or donate an annual Unit amount on top of the current transaction levy. (edited)

Apart from the Welcome letter that new members get, I think we need to send information packages in some form (could just be email links to the website) to educate them about how the system works. Of course, this is better done in person, by phone follow-ups or even better by inviting them to events where the basics are explained.

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