Local currency launched in Birmingham to support independent businesses

Parity is a local currency and marketplace that allows business-owners in Birmingham to trade without cash. Parity is an alternative to the pound entrepreneurs can use to buy and sell with local businesses. They can use it to treat their team to local perks, keeping cash in the bank for where it’s really needed.

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on small businesses across Birmingham. They have reported losing customers and reduced footfall, alongside needing to invest in tools to operate remotely and trade online. Accessing extra resources can now be very challenging, Parity has developed a product to help business-owners adapt to these testing economic conditions.

Based on successful networks in Italy and Switzerland, Parity offers a digital platform for business-owners to trade without cash. Cofounder Stuart Bowles said,

Our platform helps business-owners thrive through providing a liquidity boost in our local currency.

How Parity works is very simple: users sign up and get an instant zero interest overdraft, they can use this to make purchases in the marketplace. Users sell their own products and services to top their balance back up.

Today, more than twenty Birmingham businesses are already trading without cash. Daniel Dainty, Director at Stratum Now has used Parity during lockdown to invest in his business. He has increased his presence on social media through working with local marketing company: Little Media Agency. He commented: “Parity has allowed my pounds to go further”. Paul Breslins, owner of Breslins Chartered Accountants has supported Parity since before its launch and stated:

Parity is a fantastic concept and great for my business clients as they can make purchases without using precious Pounds. This is a great solution to help small businesses smooth their cash flow.

While increasing local spending power, Parity also supports trade by increasing local exposure and facilitating new relationships. Businesses can now post listings on the marketplace which they are happy to exchange for the local currency. Many of them are posting introductory offers, promotions and special deals as a way of meeting new local clients and increasing footfall.

Parity opens doors to new customers they never thought possible. Angela Podmore, Director of Kinetic Communications said:

I love working locally and Parity gives me an essential tool to boost my local spending and meet new clients.

Stuart believes that the marketplace will also be an effective tool for retailers and restaurants to encourage footfall post-lockdown. “Restaurants could post offers on the marketplace to encourage footfall at their quietest times. Whereas retailers might post special deals to encourage customers to visit, allowing them to upsell other products in pound sterling”. 1000Trades in the Jewellery Quarter has already been using Parity to increase its footfall through offering drinks and food on the marketplace.

Parity offers a free account where businesses can post listings and receive £500 worth of interest free overdraft in the local currency. This allows them to try it out and see how their business can benefit from the local currency. Parity offers desktop and mobile applications and it has been supported by the Greater Birmingham Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) to scale its digital platform and provide the capacity for one hundred businesses from across Birmingham. Follow Parity on social media and look out for the Parity symbol in local businesses over the coming months.