Alternative currencies have been around throughout history, mostly in times of economic crisis or during times of war. The situation throughout the Euro Zone is no different at the current moment. Countries including Spain, Greece and Portugal all have alternative currencies in some form, floating around in their economy. More people are turning to these alternative currencies because they are used locally and allow people to trade services for goods or services for services. The currency is calculated in terms of hours, allowing someone who, say, taught piano lessons, to buy a haircut with the hours she accrued teaching the piano lessons.
Another alternative currency that has taken foothold across the world is Bitcoin. This digital currency was introduced in 2009 by an anonymous programmer; it has no central clearing house, and is not regulated by any government. Many businesses are seeing the advantage of using a purely digital currency. Usually, if a business wants to pay a supplier in a foreign country, there is a fee for that transaction and a foreign exchange rate is accounted for as well. BitCoin does not have that problem and the fee to transfer Bitcoins is free.
These two alternative currencies are very different, but are trying to accomplish the same central theme, simplicity; whether it is through a virtual or physical network. Many critics question the trustworthiness and security of these systems. With no oversight board and very little auditing, investors are taking a risk. Whether either of these alternative currencies lasts for an extended period of time is unknown, but the fact that businesses are latching on to these currencies shows that a push for a simplistic alternative to the current methods in place is on the rise.