The London neighborhood of Brixton has had its own local currency for some time, the Brixton Pound (B£). Now Brixton has the distinction of launching the world's first local e-currency (B£e).The Brixton Pound website explains how it works (as the video above demonstrates):
The B£ e-currency (B£e) will enable you to 'Pay by Text' in any business that accepts B£e, making payment in B£s simpler and more instantaneous. By signing up for the B£e you will also get 10% extra spending power - so for every £10 you pay in, you will get B£e11 credited to your account.
If you're new to the concept of local currency, electronic or printed, it's pretty simple.
The important thing to remember, none (so far at least) are meant to replace national currency. Rather they are designed to augment it, encouraging people to shop in local businesses and keep economic activity thriving locally.
Remember that when you support locally-owned businesses the economic multiplying effect (how much additional economic activity is created by virtue of your individual action) is greater than when you shop at chain stores, at stores with headquarters elsewhere, at multinational brands--by several orders of magnitude. In short, money stays circulating in the community, creating more local prosperity, because less money is siphoned off for the profit by the absentee corporate owners of the chain store.
For the more visually inclined, this animated video gets at the same thing:
In North America, Berkshares are probably the most prominent current example of local currency, though Ithaca, New York; Lawrence, Kansas; Burlington, Vermont; and Toronto, Canada have all given it a go.