What do Milford Ct, Fairfield CT, Ann Arbor MI, Muskegon MI, and Palestine TX have in common? To encourage local business they all set up little private currency systems. Usually organized through the local chamber of commerce they sold what were effectively gift checks or gift certificates. Local citizens could buy those and later redeem them at local businesses.
You can set up similar things for charitable purposes. For example First Energy in Akron Ohio sells gift checks that you can give to poor families. You can buy gift checks to send to soldiers overseas. Redeem at the commissary. “$20 million … since 2002 … more than $3.9 million in fiscal 2008” (navytimes).
All these systems have another thing in common. They all blew up a few days ago. CertifiCheck, a company in Ohio, shut down; and it turns out all these good spirited organizations signed up with these guys to run their little micro-currency system. Browsing Google’s cache it looks like there are hundreds of towns, charities, and thousands of small businesses have been affected. “A Catholic hospital in Illinois says its employees have $30,000 worth of unredeemed gift certificates.” ().
I wonder what it said on these gift checks: “Backed by the full faith and credit of a couple dudes in Dayton, Ohio.”
How you feeling about that PayPal account?