The Powell River Money Society is a member of the Powell River Chamber of Commerce
PR Chamber logo
The Chamber accepts PR$ at their regular lunch meetings.

What is LETS?

A Local Exchange Trading System, or LETS:

  • is a community-based trading network
  • uses ‘local money’
  • is not-for-profit
  • maintains accounts of trading

It’s like barter but even better: you don’t have to find someone who wants your eggs in exchange for their used TV. Everyone can supply what they have and get what they need.

LETS is based on “mutual credit”, where people swap goods and services by way of an online account which goes up and down as they trade. The account simply “keeps score”: you can’t earn interest on it, or owe interest when you account has a negative balance.

All accounts start with a zero balance. An account may be in ‘credit’ or ‘debit’. Unlike a bank account, users can go into debit without penalty. Being in debit is not being in debt. It is simply a commitment to return value to the community of users. This means that you can spend local money immediately. There is no need to earn before you can spend.

Being in ‘debit’ is more properly called being ‘in commitment’, i.e. the user is committed to giving value to the community of other LETSystem users.

Who Can Register?

Individuals and businesses with an address in the Powell River Regional District may register to become an account-holder and trade in PR LETS by completing a registration form online or on paper.

How Does Trading Work?

  • Registrars will accept new account-holder applications (online and offline), and add them to the PR LETS database.
  • Users find each other by using the Directory of LETS Users and Offer and Request Listings posted on this site.
  • Users trade in LETS$, but trades may include partial payment in Canadian $ as well as in LETS$, by agreement between users.
  • LETS$ are not convertible to or from CN$, but they should be regarded as equivalent in value
  • Once a trade has been agreed, the person making payment enters the transaction online, or can use a paper “cheque” which is recorded later by a Registrar.

Joe has just joined PRLETS. He scans the Directory to look at what people have in their “Standing Offers” and sees that Tim offers buzzcuts for L$8 each, so he contacts him by email or phone, and arranges to go over one evening and get trimmed. After his cut, Joe logs in to his PRLETS account and transfers L$8 to Tim’s account.

Now Joe’s account has a balance of -L$8. He didn’t need to earn any LETS$ before he started to spend.

Next day, Joe looks at the Offers and Requests listings and Tammy is requesting someone to come over and dig her two garden beds over and mulch them for the winter. Joe has a strong back so he arranges with Tammy that he’ll dig and mulch her beds for L$30. Tammy doesn’t have a computer at home, so she pays Joe with a paper “cheque” which specifies her username and his, and how much to transfer. Joe mails the cheque to the PRLETS Registrar, who manually enters the transaction to transfer L$30 from Tammy’s account to Joe’s.

Now Joe’s account has a balance of  +L$22.

Joe has a whole stack of Star Wars figures that he’s been carrying around through multiple house moves. He decides it’s time to get rid of them so he creates an Offer listing, offering to sell them for L$10 each. His listing includes pictures of the figures so people can get a good idea of what he’s offering. Miyaki, Trevor and Blake buy several figures each over the next few weeks, netting Joe L$90.

Now Joe’s account has a balance of  +L$112

A winter storm rolls in and strips a couple of dozen shingles off Joe’s roof. While Joe has a strong back he doesn’t have a head for heights, so he looks in the Directory for someone who does roofing. Theresa offers roof repairs for L$40/hr plus the cost of materials in CN$, and she even has all the correct insurance coverage etc. When Joe calls her she is pretty booked up but manages to fit him in next day, and spends 4.5 hours on the roof fixing the missing shingles PLUS, with Joe’s agreement, a larger patch of loose shingles which would fly off in the next storm. She charges Joe L$180 for the time, plus CN$25 for materials, plus CN$ for the sales tax she has to charge because she’s a registered business.

Now Joe’s account has a balance of  -L$68

See how it works? As Joe trades with other LETS users his account balance goes up and down, sometimes negative, sometimes positive, and their accounts move up and down as well.

Things to Note

  • Payment for goods and services traded and rates of pay are negotiated directly between account-holders. PR LETS is not an intermediary.
  • PR LETS does not guarantee the value, condition or quality of goods/services traded. It is the account-holder’s responsibility to make any necessary checks.
  • If a transaction would be taxable if it was carried out in CN$, it is taxable in local currency such as PRLETS$. It is the responsibility of account-holders to declare and pay necessary taxes, and to fulfill any insurance or licensing requirements.  Neither PR LETS nor the LEWG nor TTPR have authority, liability or obligation to report or to collect taxes.