General Common Good Card F.A.Q.

What is the Goshen Common Good Card?
  • The Goshen Common Good Card is a card you can carry in your wallet (as well as an app) and use to make purchases at local retailers. It acts as a local currency and payment system designed to boost our local economy and the common good in Goshen. It is meant to complement U.S. Dollars, not replace them. As a member, you can use the Common Good Card in a similar fashion to a debit card, and your account can be managed online.
  • Democratic control of capital is a key focus of the CGC system. Our community decides how the Common Good Card works and how to spend the Community Fund. As a member, you have an equal vote, and in this way we can establish democratic control of our money.
  • The Goshen Common Good Card is one community in a national system called Common Good™. Common Good is a 501(c)(3) organization based out of Ashfield, Massachusetts. The payment system that the Goshen Common Good Card uses is designed by this national non-profit in collaboration with it’s member communities.
  • The Goshen Common Good Card can be found online at commongood.money
  • The national non-profit can be found online at commongood.earth
What is a local currency?
    • Just like the U.S. Dollar, local currencies allow people to exchange goods and services. Local currencies are often designed to benefit a particular group or region of people.
    • Local currencies can take many different forms. The Goshen Common Good Card is designed primarily as a means of exchange. This increases local spending, boosts economic activity, and prevents money from leaving the local economy.
    • Like most local currencies, the Common Good Card is not legal tender meaning that participation is voluntary. It is a system built on community trust and relationship!
How does the card actually work?
  • Participating businesses can scan your card with their smartphone or tablet and charge your account accordingly.
  • In addition to using the card at local businesses, payments can be sent and received to anyone in the system through the online portal.
  • Individuals can also pay one another using their smartphones and the Common Good Payments app. (currently Android only)
Why does Goshen need something like the Common Good Card?
  • The Card gives our community the ability to gather locally and decide for ourselves what our funding priorities should be, to advance a Common Good — with plenty of money to fund those decisions.
    • Our funding priorities could include sustainable agriculture and energy systems, local self-reliance, healthy food, healthcare or other aspects that improve quality of life.
    • The platform offers communities a democratic system for deciding how much money (credit) to issue and what to fund with it.
  • Economies suffer when money stops moving through them. This is particularly true in smaller communities where money leaks out to larger corporations instead of staying in the community. The Common Good Card works to keep money circulating locally in many ways. Here are some highlights:
    • The Common Good Card is a kinder currency built on relationship and trust instead of profit.
    • Using the Common Good Card encourages people to patronize locally owned shops. This gives small businesses a boost.
    • Paying with the Common Good Card eliminates credit card fees and instead businesses can choose to direct some of these savings to our local Community Fund.
    • Using the Common Good Card gives us more influence in our local monetary system.
    • Using the Common Good Card creates a platform for economic democracy and education.
    • The Common Good card creates possibilities for tangible social benefit through favorable/strategic/democratic loans, investments, and grants.
Where can I use my Common Good Card?
  • We have worked closely with The Electric Brew to develop the Goshen Common Good Card during a micro-trial phase. Several more businesses have created accounts and are working towards implementation. For a full list of participating businesses, visit commongood.earth and click Where from the top menu.
What does it cost to join?
Joining is free! There is an opportunity to make a donation, but you are not required to do so. Most people find that the online application process takes 15-20 minutes. 
How do I sign up for The Common Good Card?
  • Get in touch with us and we will send you an invitation.
  • After creating an account, a card is sent to you in the mail.
Can I exchange between U.S. Dollars and Common Good Credits?
  • Transferring U.S. Dollars to Common Good Credits is an easy process that is completed online. 1 USD = 1 Common Good Credit. Credits can be converted back to USD at any time for no cost. It is free to transfer in either direction.
  • Additionally, you can set your Common Good Account to automatically refill from your bank account if it dips below a “Target Balance.”
What happens to my USD when I trade it in for Common Good Credits?
  • Unless our community decides otherwise, every* Common Good Credit is backed by US dollars in an escrow account. Currently this escrow account is operated by Common Good in Ashfield, Massachusetts. When we are ready, the intent is to move the escrow account to a local financial institution.
  • * A cash crunch (not likely) can theoretically happen even when the total amount of Common Good Credits in the system is backed by US Dollars. This can happen when some members have a negative balance (because they bought something without a sufficient balance) and other members try to cash out what they have been paid. As
How are receipts from transactions given?
A history of every transaction is always available to view when you sign in to your account. You can also choose to receive an email notification each time you make a purchase.
What is the “Community Fund?”

The Community has two accounts for its use:

 

  • A Community Fund (or Community Common Good Account) containing Common Good Credits of voluntary transaction fees and donations.
    • Our Common Good Community has a Common Good Account, just as any other organization can have one. The community’s account is special though. It has no set credit limit. It can go as far negative as the community decides is sensible (limited by what trade imbalance other communities will put up with). This is the real power of the Common Good system. A community could, for example, go thousands of dollars negative making a zero-interest loan to a local entrepreneur to start a popular new business.
      • Customers can choose to Round Up each purchase to the nearest whole dollar amount and drop the Round Up amount into the Community Fund.
      • Members can choose to turn on Crumbs, and select a small percentage of each receipt to redirect to the Community Fund. This works like a credit card fee, except the money goes to the community instead of the credit card company.
      • Members have an option to donate when they create their account, or can choose to donate at a later date as well.
  • A Community Escrow Account (holding all the US Dollars members have traded for Common Good Credits).
    • Every time you put money into your Common Good account, by exchanging US Dollars for Common Good Credits, the US Dollars are deposited in a bank account (the Community Escrow Account) and Common Good Credits are added to your Common Good Account. Purchase transactions have no effect on the Community Escrow Account. When a member exchanges Common Good Credits back to US Dollars, those US Dollars are taken out of the Escrow account.
    • In the near to medium term, every Common Good Credit in circulation is backed by a U.S. Dollar held in the escrow account. Once the community decides together that the system is mature, we can start carefully using funds from the escrow account to benefit the community.
  • These two accounts can be utilized to do a variety of different things. We can invest in startups, issue zero-interest loans, and help fund community projects. These decisions regarding the use of funds will be handled in a democratic process where every member participates.
Is the Common Good Card legal to use?
Yes! Non-government-issued currencies are legal in the United States as long as they are not intended to replace the U.S. dollar. Regular sales and income tax still apply.
Can we trust this system to be secure and do what it states?
  • The Common Good Card uses the same security schemes that a bank or credit union uses for online transactions. All member data is encrypted in transit and while stored.
  • The Goshen promoters of the Common Good Card have learned to know and trust the Common Good Card system and staff over the past 2 years, and they endorse their values and vision for empowering a network of communities using the Common Good Card.
  • The Common Good System is strengthened by relationship and trust, and the local community of members is responsible for maintaining a trustworthy system.
Who are the operators of the Goshen CGC?
  • The primary organizers in Goshen currently include Ben Beyeler, David Leaman-Miller, John Glick, Phil Metzler and Myron Bontrager.  Former organizers include Chris Meyer and David Shenk.
  • As the system grows and matures, a non-profit organization and financial oversight board will be established depending on the needs determined by the members.
Many payment systems already exist. Why does Goshen need an additional payment system?
  • The whole CGC system is intentionally designed with member control and community benefit as guiding principles. Most other payment systems are guided mainly by profit, but the CGC is unique because it is a non-profit system designed to make our money work towards the common good. This is one shift necessary for a common good economy.
  • “Crumbs”, which act like voluntary transaction fees, are kept in our local community fund. The fees are democratically distributed to local projects that benefit the Goshen community and are used to manage the system when needed.
Is the Common Good Card similar to a feature of a bank or credit union?
  • Like a credit union, CGC is local and non-profit (community-spirited).
  • Unlike a bank or credit union, CGC members have democratic control of capital and funding decisions.
  • In the CGC system, comprehensive economic data is open to view by members.

F.A.Q. for Businesses

How will the Common Good Card benefit my business?
  • Using the Common Good Card avoids traditional credit card fees. Instead, you may set your own transaction fee (percentage), with the money going to the community fund.
  • Businesses benefit from a strong community and a strong local economy. The Common Good Card is designed to boost the local economy and increase community pride. In addition, the Common Good Card is designed to help connect businesses and enable them to assist one another in adding a variety of services and community benefits.
  • Members are actively looking for places where they can use their Common Good Card, so by becoming part of the community you make it easy for members to discover your business!
Are there charges for using The Common Good Card?
  • No, it is free for a business to become a member.
  • In fact, at this time, on every sale there is a 10% bonus added to your line of credit in your account. A 10 credit sale results in 1 credit added to your line of credit.
Will the card work with my POS system?
  • The Common Good Card POS system is simply a smartphone app that can co-exist with your current POS. Customers cards can be scanned and charged with the app.
  • For now, the Common Good Payments app is Android only.
  • Goshen Common Good can give you a smartphone to use to get started. You can pay for the phone in credits at a later date once your business becomes familiar with the system.
What can I do with my Common Good Credits?
  • Common Good Credits can be exchanged for U.S. Dollars at any time for free.
  • Check with your suppliers to see if any of them are willing to accept Common Good Credits.
  • Consider seeing if your employees would accept part or all of their paycheck in Common Good Credits.
How are receipts from transactions given?
A history of every transaction is always available to view when you sign in to your account.  “Customers also have their own transaction history that they can view from their online account.”
How will accountants see this system?
  • For tax purposes Common Good transactions are treated as if they were made with USD.
    • A sale would debit the cash account and credit a revenue account.
    • A purchase would credit the cash account and debit an expense account.
  • Optionally, the cash account could include a sub-account called “Common Good Card” to track cash in and out for that payment method.
  • Common Good Finance is recognized by the IRS as a barter exchange and is required to send a form 1099-B to the IRS annually. [That is the reason an SSN or EIN is requested during sign-up].
  • Members need to pay income and sales tax for transactions made with Common Good credits, just like they would for transactions made with US dollars.
What are the risks?
  • Common Good takes security very seriously. The system is at least as secure as using a bank, a credit union or a payment system such as PayPal for online transactions.  
  • The Goshen promoters of the Common Good Card have learned to know and trust the Common Good Card system and staff over the past 18 months, and they endorse their values and vision for empowering a network of communities using the Common Good Card.
  • In the near to medium term, every Common Good Credit in circulation is backed by a U.S. Dollar held in the escrow account. This means that you are guaranteed to be able to convert your Common Good Credits back to U.S. Dollars at any time.
How can I join the Common Good program?

 

  • Before you can create a business account, you need to create a personal account. Get in touch with us  and we will send you an sign-up link to create an account. Try out your new personal card for a while and learn how the online system works. Once you feel comfortable, you can sign up for a business account through your personal account.
  • Common Good Goshen will provide you with a Business packet to get you started.
  • Once you create a business account, it is possible to do a soft launch. You don’t have to immediately publicize your account. We recommend starting with a couple small test purchases so you can get a feel for how money moves through your system.