by Amanda Dookie
Several stores in Ottawa have started to accept BTZ (pronounced “bits”), Bunz Trading Zone’s exclusive currency. The Bunz Trading Zone (aka Bunz) was founded in 2013 as a community that allows people to barter goods or services with others via a Facebook group, or the Bunz application for mobile devices. The main rule of Bunz is that money can’t be used for trades.
Since 2013, Bunz has helped the bartering-environmental/anti-capitalist movement grow with now over 200,000 users in over 200 cities around the world. Bunz provides access to goods and services to users who may not have the funds, and an opportunity to participate in the environmental sustainability movement by reducing consumption, and recycling and reusing products while diverting support away from large institutions. In the spring of 2018 Bunz also started allowing users to trade for BTZ.
The following stores now accept BTZ in Ottawa:
- Plant and Curio: A small shop of interesting houseplants and intriguing, handmade accessories. Located at 619 Somerset St. W.
- Pressed Ottawa: A gourmet sandwich bar and organic, fair trade coffeehouse, offering, among many delicious goods, sweet and savoury waffles and weekend brunch. Located at 750 Gladstone Ave.
- Workshop Boutique: A cute shop in the Byward Market offering Canadian and local made clothing, jewelry and accessories. Located at 242 Dalhousie St.
- Flock Boutique: A sister company to Workshop Boutique,also offering Canadian and local-made clothing, jewelry and accessories. Located in Hintonburg at 1275 Wellington St. W.
- Venus Envy: An award-winning sex shop and bookstore with something for everyone. Located in Centretown at 226 Bank St.
At Plant and Curio 1000 BTZ is equivalent to $10, and there is no limit to the amount of BTZ customers can use to buy any of the products sold in the store. For the owners, using BTZ is about giving their customers options.
Leslie MacDonald was already aware of Bunz when Plant and Curio were approached by the company to accept BTZ as a form of payment. MacDonald saw it as an opportunity to provide a vehicle for bridging gaps between people and their needs while creating connections with the community.
“I’m all for it because I think that it’s awesome that it provides, for example, a university student who doesn’t have the money the ability to buy a new item, Christmas present, or even a sandwich,” says MacDonald.
Against the bartering spirit?
When the Bunz introduced BTZ there was a negative backlash online with some claiming that it goes against Bunz’s original rule of not using money for trades. Sascha Mojtahedi, CEO of Bunz, explained in a press release:
“Bunz’s fundamental goal is to build a community that promotes a sustainable future. Part of making the world more sustainable economically means the decentralization of social networks and marketplaces, making way for stronger local communities. New technologies like cryptocurrency are making that possible. BTZ is an extension of the bartering revolution.”
Mojtahedi argues that BTZ, as a form of buying power, can be used to promote economic sustainability by supporting local businesses. It also provides greater flexibility to Bunz users.
Without the option of BTZ users often ask for gift cards in lieu of cash when a suitable trade cannot be found. BTZ can provide an alternative to gift cards from large institutions while facilitating trading, which has a positive impact on the environment through the recycling of goods.
For more Bunz, check out Bunz Trading Zone Ottawa on Facebook.