phone in hand

Bristol Pound: Building Community Connection

In 2012 the first “Bristol Pound” was spent by the Lord Mayor on a loaf of bread. Since then, the Bristol Pound has become internationally recognised as a trend-setter in the local currency world.

The Bristol Pound is the UK’s first city-wide local currency, designed to encourage people to spend money with local, independent businesses in the area. It's a complementary currency that can be used alone or alongside the national currency. The Bristol Pound is run as a not-for-profit partnership between the Bristol Pound Community Interest Company and Bristol Credit Union.

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A leader in local currencies

Bristol Pound is both a paper and electronic currency, with notes accepted by 800 businesses throughout the city.

However, in an increasingly digital world, users wanted a more effective way to manage their accounts and transact from their mobile devices.

Designing for Mobile

Scott Logic and Bristol Pound are both active members of the technology community in the city. We collaborated to create a market-leading mobile application for local currencies, which was unveiled and rolled out to users in late 2017.

The previous Bristol Pound mobile app acted as a simple directory system, listing businesses that accepted the local currency. The new app gives users the ability to view their transaction history and make payments directly from their phone.

A small UX design and development team from Scott Logic worked closely with Bristol Pound to completely rebuild the mobile experience. The team worked in weekly iterations, moving rapidly from wireframes, to prototype, delivering regular updates and beta versions of the software.

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Open Source

The new app reflects the needs of both existing and frequent users of this local currency, as well as visitors to the area who are curious about the concept and how it works.

Its core feature is an interactive map, which allows visitors and locals to explore the businesses around them, filter by business type, or find Bristol Pound cashpoints. For frequent users, it supports PIN unlocking and rapid transactions at the point of sale.

The application was built on top of the Cyclos banking platform, using their open REST APIs. The mobile app was built using React Native, a high-profile Facebook-backed project, allowing the creation of a native-quality app for both iOS and Android from the same code-base.

In keeping with the spirit of this project, the team decided to open source the mobile app on the GitLab platform, in order to benefit other similar currencies and the wider developer community.

Delivered by Scott Logic

  • User-led functionality: the new app's features were requested by users. These include the ability to make payments by phone, view transaction history, and filter by business type on the interactive map
  • Weekly UX and development iterations: the team moved from wireframes to prototype in weekly iterations, delivering regular updates and beta versions of the software
  • Open source software: in keeping with the spirit of the Bristol Pound, the software is open source and available on GitLab

mobile on table

We didn’t just end up with a great new open source app for finding traders and making payments. As an organisation, we also now understand far better how to make the right tech dev happen faster.

Ciaran Mundy, Bristol Pound CEO