GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. - Fennie Wang is wrapping up her regular trip to the Berkshire Food Co-Op in Great Barrington, but at the register, there’s something new.
“Can I pay in BerkShares please?” Wang asked the cashier. “I got the new digital app, so I’m excited to use it.”
Wang and her company, Humanity Cash, helped develop the new BerkShares app, allowing people to use the local currency digitally.
“Much like Venmo, you simply link your bank account as a funding source to load up your wallet,” said Wang. “When the funds are settled, you’ll get your digital BerkShares tokens in your wallet, and then you can go and spend it, it’s scan to pay, and patronize your local businesses.”
The goal of BerkShares is to keep money circulating within the local economy. For participating business owners like Jamie Goldenberg of Hart Textiles, it helps her support other local businesses while building her own.
“I had to think about, as a business, where I can spend the BerkShares,” said Goldenberg. “Like, Kwik Print across the street takes BerkShares, and other places where I can take that budget line item and go, ‘okay, we’ll I’m going to go bring that back into the local economy,’ rather than maybe going to Staples.”
The app is being rolled out over the next few weeks, with the goal of having it accepted at all the over 400 businesses in the BerkShares program.
As more vendors are added, Wang hopes the app will help people discover new places to shop locally.
“We have a news feed where you can learn about the business of the month and learn the stories of these small business owners,” said Wang. “It can be a place to get information about the community and kind of grow and support each other that way.”