Here's perhaps the most unusual alternative currency out there; criminals are using Tide instead of money to buy and sell drugs. For a myriad of reasons, explained at length in a NY Magazine article, Tide is easy to steal, has brand name recognition, and carries only a shoplifting penalty for its theft. Therefore, in the nefarious underworld it has become an alternative currency for those looking to score, since a 150 ounce bottle goes for $5 in cash or $10 in weed or crack.
2Canadian Tire Money
Canada has another form of hard currency, in addition to the traditional Canadian Dollar. It's “money” printed by Canadian Tire, a nationwide tire company that is a household name there. They started printing it in 1958, with their mascot Sandy McTire on the notes, which come in denominations of 5 cents up to $2 Canadian. They were originally intended to be used by customers for discounts at the chain. However, because of the company's ubiquity, these notes are accepted at face value at other businesses. Speculators buy and sell the bills, collectors covet the rare ones, and even counterfeiters try to pass phony knockoffs. Recently, Corin Raymond, a Canadian folk singer, released an album that was funded entirely by Canadian Tire money.
3Chiemgaur Created by a German High School Teacher
4The Ven - A “Green” Global Currency
5WIR Francs - Founded in 1934
One of the oldest and most successful alternative currencies is the WIR Franc, which began in 1934 as a response to the global Great Depression. Founded by two businessmen in Switzerland, the WIR Bank started issuing credits in their own Francs to depositors, who could earn more by pledging physical assets. It works in parallel to traditional currencies; the amount of WIR credits can offset the amount of cash the seller needs, without affecting the profit of the buyer. It started with just 16 participants, and now has over 60,000. For more information, watch this video:
6The Bitcoin Marriage Experiment
There are a number of digital alternative currencies in existence right now, including Litecoin and PPCoin, but the biggest player is Bitcoin. What is digital currency? Basically, it's an independent form of money that is digital, international, and independent of any state, bank, company, or entity. In a perfect world, it would be the most convenient and inexpensive form of banking ever. But in reality, buying, selling, and using Bitcoin can be a challenge. Austin Craig and Beccy Bingham, a Utah couple, decided to attempt to use nothing but Bitcoin for the first 90 days of their marriage. (They are making a documentary, of course.) While it is difficult to find places that accept the money, it could soon be much easier; 2 companies have announced plans to install Bitcoin ATMs in the USA.
7Linden Dollars in Second Life
8Fresh Fruit is Currency in UK Teen Prisons
In UK youth prisons, the lack of fresh fruit has turned it into an alternative currency, according to The Howard League for Penal Reform. Debts and bribes are paid to older criminals by using bananas, apples, or any other hard-to-find fruit. The League brings this up to raise awareness of the plight of these teen prisoners in hopes of improving conditions. This is one instance where it would be a good thing to flood the market and destroy the economy.