Sistema INtercambio y TRAnsacciones Locales--
System of Exchange and Local Transactions: SINTRAL
From "La Otra Bolsa de Valores"
The Rumihuaico SINTRAL System
Thanks to Jurgen Schuldt for presenting here the principles of a
community enterprise design for promoting the talent and local
initiative of a community. This system is located in a town near to
Quito, Rumihuaico, in the Tumbaco Valley. This system is called
SINTRAL--"Sistema de Intercambio y Transacciones Locales" or System
of Exchange and Local Transactions, and is a non profit system
organized for the people and funded by the Pestalozzi Education
Foundation. The information booklet that the group published
(SINTRAL, 1995) explains in great detail a system which can be applied
to a concrete locality, a new preferential method which is most simple
to understand and apply.
SINTRAL is a system of exchange and transactions which allows
the people of a locality to offer and receive all manner of goods and
services from one to another, without the necessity of using proper
money. Although it is a simple way of handling exchanges, it can also
handle sophisticated transactions and a variety of alternative economic
programs very efficiently.
SINTRAL-Rumihuaico uses a an alternative measure of value
called "Recursos" -- "Resources" that is different from money in that it
cannot be hoarded, lost, stolen nor forged. It can only be used in the
local area in which it is issued, and unlike banks, "recursos" remain
within the community. The standard exchange between a "recursos"
and "sucre" is 1 to 1.
The function of the SINTRAL system can be summarized in the
following components and procedures.
a. A group of people in an area, community or locality come together
and agree to start a system for exchanging goods and services using a
system of accounts (the name of the currency varies in different
countries, in Rumihuaico it is called "Recursos".
b. They produce a directory of goods, skills and resources that are
offered and requested by the members and circulate it among the
members, and citizens of the locality.
c. The members exchange directly between each other, using a cheque
to credit the recipient's account for the good or service received. More
than a barter system, SINTRAL allows its members to receive credit to
spend with others.
d. The cheques are brought to a central office which registers all of the
transactions and every month updates the accounts of the members,
and makes changes to the directory.
e. No interest is charged on accounts.
f. The major intermediaries, and especially speculators are completely
eliminated in this system of direct transactions, resulting in extensive
savings to the members.
g. The SINTRAL system is a non-profit organization. To cover the costs
of providing the services through the central office, a small percentage
in "recursos" is charged on each transaction.
SINTRAL is a community network designed to support the talent and
individual initiative in the community, while increasing exchange and
helping the community. In this sense, members gain access to a variety
of local resources and all types of skills in a way that is familiar to
them, while adequately meeting the needs of the members.
The SINTRAL system offers the community many benefits, such as:
a. helping businesses and people who offer services;
b. promoting the local economy;
c. stimulating initiative and creativity;
d. helping local producers to satisfy local needs;
e. saving resources and the environment; and
f. fostering community spirit
In this respect, supporters affirm that "the real wealth is to be
found in our community ... in the talents and resources of the members
-the goods and services that they have to offer- and not in money".
Money is only a medium for the commercial exchange of goods and
services. When a community is in recession or depression, there is no
need for the community to be forced to live in poverty and not have
resources ... it is only because the wealth is being monopolized and
because the medium of circulation, money, has diminished or is
draining out of the community.
In place of coins and bills, we have adopted a medium of our own
creation "recursos", that does not have the problems associated with
money. In this way, we are able to liberate and potentiate the wealth
found in our community for the benefit of all.
The SINTRAL network in Ecuador currently consists of two
systems, the SINTRAL-Rumihuaico (SR), and the SINTRAL-Toctiuco
(ST) system, both organized and funded by the Pestalozzi Education
Characteristics of the Association
1. The System of Exchange and Local Transactions (SINTRAL) is a
non-profit society. The system is managed by a central group in
concordance with the member's interests.
2. The basic idea of the SINTRAL system in Rumihuaico is to assist
and promote community development by sharing the skills and
knowledge for the benefit of all.
3. The members trades and accounts, and the details of the trade with
the other members are registered in a computer.
4. SINTRAL publishes a directory of offers and needs, as well as listing
the members who can offer goods or services on a regular basis.
5. The members can trade with anyone, only in "recursos" or
combination in diverse proportions of "recursos" and money. The
system will only record the "recurso" portion of the transaction.
6. Only the member making the purchase may move "recursos" from
their account to the account of another member. There are no fines on
negative balances, members can spend as they need (subject to limits
set by the organization).
7. Only the administrator can order the transfer of "recursos" from one
account to another.
8. If a member has achieved a positive balance (higher than zero) in
their accounts, they will be encouraged to spend down their balances.
9. Before leaving the community, the member must return the balance
of their account to zero.
10. There is no interest charged on balances. To cover the costs of
operating the system, the members will be charged fees for their use of
the system in "recursos" and/or money (for example, a membership fee,
a monthly fee, a renewal fee, a transaction fee). The members will be
informed in advance of any fees.
11. SINTRAL is an open community system. Any member may request
the account balance of another member. The central group may
publish the account balances for the benefit of the membership.
12. Nobody is obliged to trade with another member.
13. SINTRAL is not responsible for the value, the condition or the
quality of goods and services offered in the directory.
14. The value of a good or service is determined at the time of
negotiating between members and is not the responsibility of the
15. The members are individually responsible for the obligations that
have occurred through making a transaction. SINTRAL cannot hold
anyone responsible by informing the authorities, and cannot collect
taxes on behalf of its members.
16. The community or the central group may act in their cautious
interests and discuss activities that may be in contrary to the
objectives of the community. The central group, or general meeting of
the society, after due consideration, may temporarily or permanently
suspend a member of the system.
17. The central group may refuse to allow a trade, or listing in the
directory that is considered inappropriate for legal or other reasons.
18. The central group can remove a member in exceptional
circumstances; for example if the individual does not bring together the
economic requirements with established morals.
19. The members have the right to assist anyone to meet with the
central group, to appeal any decisions by speaking directly with the
group or general meeting of the members.
20. The members agree to support the conditions of this agreement.
In other words, this system is practically identical to a LETS
system, a system designed for the modern world. This design for local
communities and neighbourhoods can also bring together smaller
groups of acquaintances or close friends.