A time bank is a banking entity whose unit of exchange is time. Its clients offer and receive different services establishing agreements with each other.
Compared to most banking modalities, a time bank deals with the exchange of an intangible asset such as time. In this way, the clients of each entity of this type establish collaborative relationships with each other, creating interconnected networks.
In most cases, the objective of a time bank is to carry out tasks of a social or solidarity nature.
Time bank and time as value
Frequently this type of banking entity works with exchange units set in periods of one hour, sixty minutes.
Time thus serves as a fixing model for the exchange of services. Through this system, each supply and demand is convertible into time units, creating exchange relationships.
That said, time banks move away from the capitalist model and that is why they originate and identify with cooperative social models.
Main features of a time bank
This alternative has some characteristics that distinguish it from traditional banking and investment banking:
- Value unit: As has been indicated, in this banking typology the actions are based on hours of service.
- Assignment or distribution: Time banks establish their time deposits on the basis of stubs or checks defined with assignments of hours available.
- Services inventory: Exchange relationships involve the list of services to be offered or received by each client.
- Solidarity character: It is common for the motivation of these relations of exchange of services to respond to help and social interest.
- Cohesion tool: Often this type of practice favors the cohesion of certain population centers and the creation of neighborhood help networks.
Relevance of a time bank
This type of activity is widespread in rural areas or in the economic development phase. It is especially relevant in recent decades in areas that may have suffered natural disasters or shortages of some kind.
In this sense, it is common to observe its operation in communities at risk of poverty, where the inhabitants do not have high incomes and use their time and effort as a means of supply and subsistence.
On the other hand, many public institutions have support networks that are similar to the actions of a time bank. This is done by governments as part of their social welfare policy and by way of integrating less favored citizens or those in a situation of social risk.