Trading with Talents


Essential reading for Clanners old and new

The cool thing about using the Talent Exchange is learning that the exchange of goods and services does not have to involve money or banks!

All it requires is a little effort, a lot of honesty, and the willingness to offer as well as receive goods or services, not for money but simply for a measure of that willingness, which we call Talents.

Unlike the money system, the goal is not to accumulate wealth but keep your balance at zero – indicating you are giving and receiving in equal proportion. This is what makes for a healthy community exchange system.

So if you bought things last year for Talents but haven’t found a way to earn Talents to balance your account, now is your opportunity to get organised so you can make more than you spend and get back to Zero or above

There have been many lessons learned from this experiment over the last two years (see below) – so please take the time to read through this page so you can be a part of co-creating a successful moneyless community economy.  


If you are new to the Talent Exchange

The Community Exchange System (CES), also called the Talent Exchange (TE) has been running for over 12 years and is simply a method of recording exchanges via an online account, facilitating the flow of peer-to-peer, money-free trading. Join the Talent Exchange here:

It allows anyone to offer their goods, skills or services directly to the community, and get paid in Talents, which you can then use to acquire other skills, goods or services on the Exchange. No banks required.

It was developed by South African, Tim Jenkin and is now used in over 750 communities in 75 countries around the world so you can trade across exchanges not just the one where you live.

You will be asked to enter an offering when you join. Your offering on the exchange  is not necessarily the one you offer at the festival, but it must be a valid way for you to earn Talents outside the festival.   It can be something you can do or something you can sell.


How the Talent Exchange works

  • Trading in Talents works via the CES website – an online system that keeps track of your account
  • Sign up for a free account, and join a Talent Exchange closest to where you live.
  • You add a service, skill, or item to sell, as a way of contributing and earning Talents
  • When you buy something, you give the seller your TE number and the seller enters the transaction online
  • Your account is debited and theirs is credited. No bank and no money required
  • The units of exchange, called Talents, are pegged at the local currency, so we all have the same frame of reference for value
  • When people buy your offering, you debit their account and credit your own
  • This credit can be exchanged for anything offered by other CES members
  • The system is completely transparent. You can see if someone is abusing the system by only buying and not offering anything




 How trading works at Learning Clan

  • Just for a week we are asking everyone to make this a no-Rands event, that is, to trade only in Talents
  • In this way we learn how to trade off-the-money-grid, and we learn about relying on our community for our needs
  • Since we won’t be online, in order to trade and record sales, everyone receives a Talent Sales Sheet on arrival
  • When you want to pay for something someone is offering,   write your name and TE number and amount on their Talent Sales Sheet
  • The seller enters the transactions when they get home and into the Exchange. This debits the buyers account and credits theirs, the buyer is notified and has the option to object to the trade if it was incorrectly made
  • If you have accumulated a number of Talents – you can then spend them on the growing number of goods and services available on the CES
  • You can spend up to T500 credit, on the understanding that you will pay your debt back to your community
  • If you are in debit, you must offer your skills, services or goods to balance your account back to zero
  • There is also an easy mobile website if you want to enter transactions at the Festival via your cell phone and your 3g connection at


Lessons Learned

  1. Many people report how great it is to have a week-long holiday and have the opportunity to earn Talents which they use to spend on the many workshops, talks and goods available
  2. While the Festival contributed to the highest amount of transactions ever on the Talent Exchange, it also sadly increased the net deficit by a large amount
  3. This is because quite a few people were happy to buy things for Talents, but have not bothered to balance their accounts by earning Talents in some way
  4. Others didn’t take the time to fully understand how the system works, and forgot their numbers, or used wrong numbers to buy things. This means some sellers supplied goods and were not able to receive their Talents, which amounts to theft
  5. This unbalanced deficit, eventually contributes to the decline of the Exchange over time as it means more people are taking and not giving and Talents become worthless
  6. Some feel that perhaps being allowed to go into T500 debit before earning any Talents should be stopped as some people are abusing it and not offering anything to earn Talents
  7. Some find it more difficult to earn than others and some offerings on the Exchange are not responded to
  8. Children should be encouraged to earn Talents somehow so they have something to spend at the Gathering

So… yes, it does take a bit more effort to use the Talent Exchange and it is not as convenient as money. But once you get the hang of it, and the inputs and outputs start flowing, we can easily correct all these problems. Alternatively, we could drop the idea and give up on establishing a money-free way to trade, and become just another party and learn nothing. But, the rewards are great if we get it right.


What we need to do to make it work for all

  • Your offering at the Festival is not necessarily the one you must have on your account on the Talent Exchange, but you do need to have a valid up-to-date offering on your profile on the Exchange, so check that first. If you are new, you will be asked when you join the Exchange to add something you can have on offer throughout the year to earn Talents. It can be something you can do or something you can sell
  • If you buy things for Talents, either on the Exchange or at the Festival, you must also earn Talents, otherwise you are only taking from the community and not giving
  • Everyone should bring something to sell at TLC. This can be goods or services or a skill, or food – make a little, spend a little, and everything flows
  • You can opt not to buy anything, but then what will you learn about living and contributing in community?
  • To avoid wrong numbers being given at the Festival, everyone will have a Trading Card with their Name and TE number, to assure the seller there is no error, as its easy to forget
  • If it is your first time – please do sign up well beforehand on the Exchange. There will be no signing up at the Festival. You should at least have familiarized yourself with the Talent Exchange before arriving
  • Anyone currently in the red should attempt to balance their account before attending TLC. You do this either by
    a) entering something to sell, or a service, or skill, on the Exchange
    b) attending the monthly Talent Markets in Claremont and selling something
    c) finding someone who may be interested in selling some of their excess Talents for cash
    d) requesting to settle your account in cash. The Learning Clan will sell a certain number of Festival tickets in Talents instead of Rands. These Talents can be used to enable people without a method of trading, to settle their debts to the community. The TLC Talent Account is then, with a bit of admin, a means by which those with surplus Talents can exchange them with those without
  • All accounts are transparent – so it’s easy to see who is abusing the system – so lets get creative and rise to the challenge of eliminating the deficit and amplifying this useful community trading tool, before we have to start naming and shaming




Why Talents are a good alternative to money and cryptocurrencies

Although it seems as if Talents are money, as they are pegged at the same value as Rands – they most definitely are not. Talents don’t exist – they simply measure.

The problem with money is that it exists, and so was created. The creator, by changing interest rates, controls the supply and demand, and therefore the price of it. This is usurious at every level, especially knowing that banks lend money they do not even have, which did not even exist before they lent it, and, especially knowing that we do not even need money to be able to trade with each other.

Bitcoin and other altcoins are an alternative form of money and are indeed a fantastic way to decentralise our means of exchange and have peer-to-peer transactions. But their value fluctuation is still out of our control and you need money to acquire them. They are still a thing that can be speculated upon, lost, or even stolen.

As there is no quantity of Talents (in the same way that there is no quantity of kilograms), they were not created, so therefore no one can control the supply and demand and make money from interest and speculation.

Using Talents to measure our exchanges means that there is no basis for unhealthy relationships. No-one can rip us off by charging interest on a Talent, or depreciating it or even stealing it. Talents only exist virtually as a measure of what you owe or are owed by your community.

The Talent Exchange is a brilliant way of totally avoiding all the controls and costs to which money is subjected.



Why use an alternative economy?

Why invent a new money when our official monies seem to do the job?

Because our conventional money system is at the root of most of the misery, suffering and problems faced by humanity. It is also the prime factor behind the environmental crises we face.

The money systems we use are not neutral, non-partisan, services provided by our governments. They are a service provided by private financial institutions (banks) specifically for their own benefit rather than those who use them.

Our conventional money systems only work for those who already have money, and they marginalise the rest.

Money is the fuel that powers the growth imperative of our economies, forcing us all to compete against each other for the interest (that wasn’t created when the loan amount was created). This pressure has had disastrous consequences for our environment and the health of our planet.

Money comes into existence when commercial banks grant loans, every unit in existence is based on a unit of debt. Money is debt, and the interest portion was never created, so that has to come from someone else who loses his money.

Despite its modern electronic trappings, our conventional money systems are a relic of history. They are the latter-day equivalent of cattle or gold, except that money itself is not worth anything, and the value that we have agreed upon is subject to fluctuations in sentiment, and therefore subject to speculation and insider profiteering.

The debt-based money system was developed for the industrial revolution to provide a rapidly expanding money supply that could not be provided by a money system based on the quantity of precious metals. This introduced intangible money that did not exist in the same way as earlier ‘hard’ monies, but people continued treating it as a tradable commodity.

Money that ‘exists’ can thus be accumulated like any other commodity. It can also be stolen, traded, collected, destroyed and lost. Its distribution is not based on the delivery of value to others but on the ability of people to ‘make money’. Conventional money has no restraints and always flows away from where it is created and needed, towards the ‘money centres’.

The CES breaks out of this paradigm by recognising that the electronics revolution has eliminated the need for an exchange medium

Never before in the history of humankind has it been possible to record accurately who delivers value to whom. Now that this is possible there is no longer a need for an ‘existential’ money; money can at last truly measure the delivery of value and be based on nothing other than the expenditure of effort by people for others.

Currency as information – a unit of measure – not a thing

If money does not need to exist as a thing, it does not have to be created and controlled. We are told we need money, it is convenient and we want the stuff money buys us, but if our community can supply everything we need, then all we require from a currency is a method of keeping note of who supplied what to whom.

A currency that does not exist can never be in short supply

A Talent is a measure, like a kilogram, not a thing you can own. It is the measure of the amount that you have taken from, or given to, your community. The value is arbitrary, as long as everyone knows what one Talent is worth, and in the case of the CES, the value of the Talent has been pegged at one Rand. (This of course is terribly unfair when it comes to exchanging Talents between countries and highlights why money is usurious and why we need an alternative.)

An exchange of Talents means that wealth remains where it is created and needed, and it does not leak away to the usurious ‘money lenders’

So… add this powerful means of exchange to your portfolio, and get a little closer to freedom from the money system!  Sign up with the links on the right. And if you are already a member, check your balance. Speak to us if you are in debit and have no way of getting your account back to zero.