American town printing its own currency on ‘thin planks of wood’

Mayor Wayne Fournier holds $25 in wooden money, in Tenino, Washington. (AFP)
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Updated 13 July 2020

American town printing its own currency on ‘thin planks of wood’

  • The money is being given as a grant to locals who demonstrate they have been economically harmed by the pandemic

NEW YORK: Tenino had become a ghost town, and small businesses were struggling to survive amid the coronavirus pandemic, so local officials revived an unconventional idea from the last century: Printing the town’s own currency on thin planks of wood.

“There was no trading, no selling and the city streets were dead. They looked the same at 3 p.m. as they did at 3 a.m.,” said Wayne Fournier, mayor of the town of 1,800 people in Washington state, in the northwestern United States.

“We were getting a lot of calls from businesses saying they were not sure if they would be able to hang on,” he told AFP.

The town’s museum had a printing press, so it was put to use to make $10,000 worth of bills on wooden rectangles, each nominally worth $25.

They feature a portrait of President George Washington and bear a Latin inscription that translates as “We’ve got it under control.”

The money is being given as a grant to locals who demonstrate they have been economically harmed by the pandemic. Each resident is allowed up to $300 per month. Known as “Tenino dollars,” “COVID dollars” or, sometimes, “Wayne dollars” after the mayor himself, the bills are traded at almost all shops in the town at a fixed rate equivalent to $1.

The currency is good only inside the town limits.

The idea is not new: Town officials last tried it during an even worse period of economic devastation, the Great Depression in the 1930s.

A national scarcity of dollars at the time prompted officials in Tenino to print money on spruce bark. “The concept became 1930s viral,” Fournier said, with other communities, businesses and chambers of commerce eager to emulate the town’s example.

Media attention piqued the curiosity of investors, and over the years the wooden currency became a collector’s item sold on eBay and Amazon.

The contemporary version of wooden currency, like the previous edition, aims to help the town through an economic crisis that forced businesses to close nationwide.

“It’s more of an advertisement for the town itself,” said Chris Hamilton, the manager of the town’s main grocery store. “It brings a lot of people into town that may not even know about Tenino and want to check this place out that makes its own money.

“They might stop off here, buy an ice cream or go down the street and buy a hamburger.”

Similar complementary currencies exist elsewhere in the US and Europe, aimed not at replacing the national money but supporting the local economy — a key distinction since American authorities take a dim view of anyone trying to create a bill to compete with the dollar.

The US Treasury declined to comment on its position regarding local currencies.

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Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

Updated 14 August 2020

Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

  • Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store
  • Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games

NEW YORK: Apple and Google dropped the popular game Fortnite from their app stores after the game’s developer introduced a direct payment plan that bypasses their platforms.
Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games, which has long been a sore spot with developers.
Fortnite is free, but users can pay for in game accoutrements like weapons and skins. Its developer, Epic Games, said in a blog post Thursday that it was introducing Epic Direct payments, a direct payment plan for Apple’s iOS and Google Play. Epic said the system is the same payment system it already uses to process payments on PC and Mac computers and Android phones.
Apple and Google said the service violates their guidelines.
“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services,” Apple said in statement.
Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store. Android users can download the app from other app stores, although that’s generally not an option for iPhone users.
Epic Games did not immediately return a request for comment. Epic’s Fortnite Twitter account said the company would debut a new short film called “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” a seeming parody of Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial that introduced the Macintosh computer. It has also filed a complaint against Apple in the US District Court in Northern California for dropping Fortnite.