THE CELEBRATION of the launch of a new local currency called živec took place in Zvolen on May 4. The event included a theatre performance by the Divadlo Bez Opony from nearby Banská Bystrica.
Živec is a currency inspired by local currencies worldwide. It can be used for transactions in shops and businesses in Zvolen that are participating in the project, Zuzana Špániková of the Živica civic association, told the TASR newswire.

“We want to bring something that could interconnect clients with businesses and give them a chance to support their city,” said another Živica activist, Lucia Katonová. One živec is the equivalent of one euro, so prices are the same in euros and in živecs. The exchange point for the živec is Kafé Džezva in Zvolen, and a list of shops and businesses that accept the currency can be found at zivica.sk/lokalnamena. Clients get a five-percent bonus when exchanging živec.

Abroad, for example, such currencies can be used to pay local taxes or state employees. “We approached the city of Zvolen with this idea – and it has been very open and positive, and it will negotiate with us,” head of Živica Juraj Hipš told TASR.

The currency is valid for a limited time to support its circulation and prevent speculation. Clients will have to spend the currency before it expires, and tradesmen will be able to exchange živecs for euros within 30 days of its expiration date. Živecs are protected against counterfeiting with standard protective elements. From a legal point of view, these are like government stamps (like meal or gift vouchers). The transactions in which they are used are accounted for in the official currency, according to the law on accounting.

The živec is part of the project Nevyšliapanou Cestou (Walking the Unbeaten Path), operated by Živec since May 2013. It is also valid as a local currency in some selected shops in Bratislava. Its goal is to foster viable and environmentally sustainable activities in cities. A Partner of the project is Urban AgriCulture Netz Basel from Switzerland, and it is also supported by the European Union through the Programme of Swiss-Slovak Cooperation, managed in Slovakia by the Ekopolis Foundation. The dm drogeriemarkt chain also financially supports this project.