City of Belfast and Colu Team up to Create City Loyalty Token to Boost Local Economy and Environment

- Belfast Coin is the UK's first incentive-based digital currency - It will operate as a rewards platform, motivating actions which make a positive difference - From later this year, it will be accepted as payment across Belfast

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UK & Israel based tech company Colu has signed a deal with the UK Belfast City Council to launch a new city token called Belfast Coin. The innovative city currency will be designed to empower residents, local businesses, city authorities, and partners, bringing them together to help Belfast develop and thrive – to boost the city economy and help meet environmental goals.

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Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Deirdre Hargey said: 

“Being selected to be part of the city currency challenge means an important opportunity for Belfast, and I’m delighted that this has been made possible through our partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, and working with Colu.

“Belfast Coin will be introduced later this year and it’s our hope that it will initially give an economic boost to local businesses, as well as helping Council achieve other long-term goals, including environmental. This challenge gives us the opportunity to explore how a city currency can bring residents, businesses and city partners together to support inclusive growth – a key priority within our Belfast Agenda. It’s also really exciting to be working alongside other global cities to learn from each other about urban problem-solving and sharing best practice.”

“Belfast Coin will make a tremendous contribution to the city’s development – Economically, socially, environmentally and beyond. Just as importantly though, Belfast Coin will bring all the different elements of the city closer to each other, by empowering residents, businesses, NGOs, community groups and educational institutions to work together towards the same goals,” said Amos Meiri, Colu’s CEO and co- founder. “By utilizing Colu’s innovative technology in this way, Belfast is demonstrating that it is a forward-thinking, exciting and ambitious city.”

Belfast Coin will operate as a rewards platform, encouraging the Belfast public towards impactful behaviours to further improve the city. Residents will accumulate Belfast Coins in return for activities such as shopping at local businesses, volunteering, civic activity and beyond. By motivating Belfast residents to make a positive difference, the Belfast Coin will strengthen their connection to the city they live in.

It will be accepted as payment at local businesses across the city, including shops, cafes, restaurants and more. Residents will be required to simply download the app and connect a payment card as a source of payment. Belfast Coin is the UK’s first city-wide digital currency designed specifically to encourage positive everyday activities.  

Belfast Coin will be introduced as part of the city’s participation in 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC). The organisation helps cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. A call went out to members of 100RC’s global network in January 2019, to work with Colu in establishing a city-wide currency. Belfast was subsequently one of six cities invited to participate in a workshop at Colu’s Tel Aviv office, and is now pursuing the next step of implementing a city-wide currency.

“As Belfast looks to the future, a chief concern will be maximizing important assets like its high quality of life, while reducing a range of challenges including the social and economic disparities which exist between residents. The Belfast Coin is an innovative example of how the city, throughout its resilience process to date, has partnered with its public, private, and individual stakeholders to catalyse inclusive economic growth and build a strong future for the entire urban community,” said Lina Liakou, Managing Director for Europe & the Middle East at 100 Resilient Cities.

Belfast Coin is expected to be launched across the city later this year. Among its initial impacts, Belfast Coin will encourage people to shop at independent businesses in the city’s Cathedral Quarter. By offering Belfast Coins as an incentive, it is hoped that residents will increasingly choose to shop with local businesses. Belfast Coin will also be used to motivate increased green activity, improving the local environment.

Work will begin immediately to sign up a range of partners and build an eco-system of stakeholders, in advance of the Belfast Coin being introduced later this year. These may include major institutions in the city, such as large employers and higher educational institutions, who may wish to help boost economic and social growth in the city. It would encourage employees, students and other relevant communities within the city to use Belfast Coin. As such, Belfast Coin operates as a platform to engage these institutions and other future partners in efforts to join forces and tackle the challenges facing the city.

To access Belfast Coins, local residents will simply be required to download the Colu app. Meanwhile, local businesses interested in pre-application for using Belfast Coin are encouraged to register now by visiting www.colu.com/belfast

Colu’s mobile payment app currently operates in communities in four cities in the UK and Israel. It is strengthening local economies by empowering more than 200,000 people to make transactions at many thousands of local businesses, accounting for over 300,000 monthly transactions. In Tel Aviv, Colu has been adopted by around one-quarter of the city’s population.

In addition to designing and developing Belfast Coin, bringing innovative technology to the city, Colu also plans to play an ongoing role in Belfast’s continued development. The company has plans to open a unique concept shop in the city centre – Staffed by local employees, it will provide a platform for local creativity and business initiative. Colu is also committed to further investments in Belfast. 

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About Richard Kastelein

Founder and publisher of industry publication Blockchain News (EST 2015), a partner at ICO services collective Token.Agency ($750m+ and 90+ ICOs and STOs), director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) – Vancouver native Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur. He sits on the advisory boards of some two dozen Blockchain startups and has written over 1500 articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat. Irish Tech News put him in the top 10 Token Architects in Europe.

Kastelein has an Ad Honorem - Honorary Ph.D. and is Chair Professor of Blockchain at China's first Blockchain University in Nanchang at the Jiangxi Ahead Institute of Software and Technology. In 2018 he was invited to and attended University of Oxford's Saïd Business School for Business Automation 4.0 programme.  Over a half a decade experience judging and rewarding some 1000+ innovation projects as an EU expert for the European Commission's SME Instrument programme as a startup assessor and as a startup judge for the UK government's Innovate UK division.

Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki, London (5x), Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, Prague, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara (2x), Shanghai, Singapore (3x), Tel Aviv, Utrecht, Venice, Visakhapatnam, Zwolle and Zurich.

He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean & Europe. He's written occasionally for Harvard Business Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com, and his work and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and French. A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart, Kastelein's professional career has ranged from political publishing to TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to marketing and more as he's travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian expatriate living around the world. In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Seas' travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he's raising three teenage daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.

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