digital payment Alex Suprun

Photo by Alex Suprun.

In November, New York State Assemblymember Ron Kim, Senator Julia Salazar, and Cornell law professor Robert Hockett, a member of the Public Banking Institute Advisory Board, announced their Inclusive Value Ledger (IVL) proposal. Jordana Rosenfeld reports in Vice that the bills — Assembly Ordinance 8686, and Senate Ordinance 6792 — would create the country’s first publicly owned electronic banking platform, as well as a digital currency that can be exchanged for goods and services within the state. Rosenfeld quotes Hockett, who asks:

“Why should we have to pay to use a payment system? It’s like paying to use a street.”

Rosenfeld continues:

“Both the payment system and currency are designed to be used in part to compensate residents for work that is often un- or underpaid, such as caring for the elderly, watching children, and cooking for others. … The IVL plan calls for New York State to distribute the $55 billion per year in uncollected individual tax credits through a ‘public Venmo,’ a publicly-administered, non-extractive payment system that would allow recipients to spend freely within the state economy without transaction fees or delays.”

The plan is supported by a coalition of community groups. Rosenfeld quotes a spokesperson for NYC-Democratic Socialists of America, one of the groups in that coalition:

“We believe that the benefits of modern technology should accrue to the people, especially those that are underserved, preyed upon and overcharged by our existing financial institutions. We are excited to support this idea and hope that the public sees the transformative potential of this legislation as well.”

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