Parity is a business credit network that provides its users more trade and access to zero interest credit. The company is inspired by Sardex, which was originally set up in Sardinia, Italy in after 2008. In the ten years since Sardex’s initial creation, it has developed into a business credit network that has over 4500 users and had €40million worth of transactions in 2017. Sardex is the leading network within Italy and has inspired projects around the world to develop in their own regions. Sardex now has eleven more networks across Italy and was named by the Financial Times as one of the top 1000 fastest growing companies in Europe.
Each year Sardex hosts an annual event called Mitzas on the beautiful island of Sardinia, Italy. The event is a two day conference that brings together some of the networks from across Italy, alongside users and the general public from Sardinia. Mitzas gets a lot of national and international attention and is on local Italian television. Parity was invited along and myself and another staff member; Matteo Vanzini, who is originally from Italy, joined Sardex for the event. The Saturday was an outline of the new products that Sardex has on offer, and we found out what they are now offering. Firstly, they now have a product called Bisoo (Italian), which is a cashback scheme offered to local consumers in Sardinia. When a Bisoo member shops at a company that uses Sardex, they receive a cashback on their purchase of between 5-25% of the amount. This cashback is loaded on to a card and is in the Sardex credit. Consumers build this up, similar to how we in the UK have Nectar Points, and the credit can be spent at any other local shop who accepts Sardex. The reason for this is that consumer spending is a large part of any modern economy and this is an initiative to try and take advantage of the spending power of local Sardinians. Bisoo hopes to boost footfall in shops that accept Sardex that will also boost the amount of Euros spent in these shops. Sardex reported that there had been 2500 signups in the short period that Bisoo had operated, and cashbacks have happened on €500,000 worth of purchases.
The second new product is Efficio which is an additional zero interest credit line available to businesses within the Sardex network. The aim of this credit line is to support investments, mainly within construction. The product has been used by over 100 companies since its inception under 12 months ago and has resulted in €4million worth of additional credit being issued for construction projects. When a project is constructed within the system, all of the suppliers and tradesmen accept Sardex. We spoke to a dentist who had recently built a new premises using the Efficio system. He receives a huge amount of trade through Sardex and was perfect for a larger credit line for his investment. He now has a larger premises, for more staff and can take more Sardex trade, to pay back this new credit line. There is a definite connection energy efficiency here too, the new building had high energy efficiency standards, but I will write a blog that just covers this aspect.
The rest of the event was based around the progress that Sardex has been making over the last couple of years. They have ran a very successful marketing campaign called #iosonosardex which translates to #IamSardex, which shows the variety of users in the system. These are all available over the social media pages of Sardex. They also outlined some of the theoretical development that has been taking place within the company, considering the implications that Sardex may have on sustainable development around the world. Finally, they did a session on international collaboration that included myself and a Eifion Williams from Circular Economy Wales. I had the opportunity to speak about the development of Parity and the future for the project. Eifion spoke about the potential development of mutual credit in Wales. There was a real excitement that the successes of Sardex within Italy could be spread around the world.
Mitzas was a great opportunity to see how advanced Sardex is and to mingle its community of stakeholders. We were able to speak with the leaders of Sardex, alongside the users and general public, which gave us a broad perspective of the impact Sardex is having in Sardinia. Over the coming weeks I will produce more blogs that have more details about the processes that I observed. Thanks for reading.
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