A Currency and a Hackathon with a Purpose

Published by Dave Shelton on

The idea for Bay Bucks, a complementary currency for the San Francisco Bay Area, came to Dr. Chong Kee Tan in the wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis.  Complementary currencies exist as a complement to a conventional currency such as the US dollar but are designed to address specific issues.  In this case the goal was to build a resilient and just economy that would promote a sense of community as well as support local businesses.

Having decided that a complementary currency would be of service to the Bay Area community, Dr. Tan and Kendra Shanley co-founded Bay Bucks and began recruiting businesses to participate.  The initial goal was to establish a strong business-to-business network in advance of rolling out Bay Bucks to consumers and they enrolled over 100 business members who actively use Bay Bucks.

To build on their initial successes and prepare Bay Bucks for eventual use by local consumers, Tan and Shanley knew they would need to develop a mobile app that would allow for convenient and secure payment of this digital currency.

ReAllocate and Hacktivations

The Bay Area has an abundance of talent when it comes to something like building a mobile app.  While most of this valuable resource of talent is directed towards for-profit endeavors, some of the programmers who’ve developed these skills have a desire to use their expertise to support causes they believe in.

Connecting world class talent to real world problems is the goal of ReAllocate.  One way that ReAllocate fosters this connection is through their Hacktivations.  A Hacktivation is similar to a Hackathon, but with a few important differences.

At a traditional hackathon people come together to pitch ideas, form into groups around the best ideas, and then write the code to make that idea a reality within a short period of time.  A Hacktivation, on the other hand, is about providing programmers with a way to volunteer that maximizes the value of their contribution and provides organizations like Bay Bucks with the help they need to achieve their goals.

June 8th Hacktivation

On June 8th, 2013 ReAllocate hosted a Hacktivation at which Bay Bucks worked with volunteers Weston McBride and Dona Williams to begin developing their mobile app.  Without wasting any time on pitching ideas, like in a hackathon, the programmers and Bay Bucks co-founders got right to work and made substantial progress.  By the end of the Hacktivation they had the basis of a mobile app, an accomplishment McBride and Williams could be proud of and a significant advancement for Bay Bucks.

A call for ReAllocators

The next step for Bay Bucks is to move the mobile app into beta and begin testing it among its business members.  To do this, they need assistance from iOS Developers.  They are hoping to meet this need at a future Hacktivation or through working with people they connect to through the ReAllocate community.  If you are an iOS developer and would like to help make Bay Bucks’ founders’ vision a reality please contact Dr. Chong Kee Tan directly at [email protected].  If you want to reallocate your skills in some other way, sign up at ReAllocate.org.


Categories: Projects