How Should Regulators Control Cell Phone Money?

2nd International Conference on Complementary Currencies Systems, The Hague, the Netherlands, June 21, 2013

26 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2013 Last revised: 24 Dec 2013

See all articles by Shann Turnbull

Shann Turnbull

International Institute for Self-Governance; Sustainable Money Working Group; New Garden City Alliance

Date Written: January 17, 2013


This paper considers how should regulators control electronic money? E-money transacted through cell phones has achieved rapid growth. Technology has allowed various units of value to emerge as a medium of exchange to compete with legal tender without involving banks. This practice could accelerate from financial system uncertainty and/or another crisis. E-money makes practical the re-introduction of cost carrying money supported by Fisher, Keynes and Buiter. Four options are considered for regulators to accept cost carrying money as: (1) a government issue redeemable into legal tender as proposed by the US Bankhead-Pettengill Bill of 1933; (2) private issues redeemable into official money as occurred during the Great Depression; (3) private issues convertible into specified commodities as occurred in Europe in the 1920’s; and (4) a regional government regulated unit of value defined by the retail value of electricity generated from benign renewable resources of the region. Arguments for regulators to accommodate the emergence of regional sustainable energy dollars are: reduce the need for carbon taxing and/or trading; establish a stable unit of value; improve monetary efficiency and equity; protect local financial systems from contagion and improve their resilience; create market forces to distribute the global population according to the carrying capacity of each region reduce market failure in allocating sustainable resources; reduce the cost of the financial system; allow currencies to be democratically controlled by mutually owned regional organizations rather than by alien for profit technology firms.

Keywords: E-money, financial system, monetary regions, Demurrage money, complementary currencies

JEL Classification: B31, D63, E42, E44, E50, G18, G20, H81, P11

Suggested Citation

Turnbull, Shann, How Should Regulators Control Cell Phone Money? (January 17, 2013). 2nd International Conference on Complementary Currencies Systems, The Hague, the Netherlands, June 21, 2013, Available at SSRN: or

Shann Turnbull (Contact Author)

International Institute for Self-Governance ( email )

PO Box 266 Woollahra
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SKYPE: shann.turnbull

Sustainable Money Working Group ( email )

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Manchester, M60 0AS
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New Garden City Alliance ( email )

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London, UK, SE1 3TA
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+44 207 378 1902 (Phone)


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