What Is Time Banking?

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What Is Time Banking?

The essence of time banking is simple. Everyone has free time. It is possible to invest it profitably: to render some service to others and to receive for it to your account the corresponding amount of time. Time capital can be spent in the same way – use the services of any other client of the bank time. At the same time, the principle of full equality operates: an hour of unskilled labor (sweep a yard or help with relocation) is valued as a qualified hour (music lesson or legal advice). Otherwise, everything is like in a regular bank: loans, bills. To become a client of the Bank of Time, you need to fill out a questionnaire, have an interview, confirm your skills with diplomas and certificates and get down to business. The client’s personal card indicates what services he can provide and what assistance he is interested in.

The idea of a time bank belongs to the Soviet psychologist and logistician Vladlen Livshits. In 1977, he introduced a flexible working time system at the bakery of the Estonian city of Kohtla-Järve. A little later, two more enterprises of the same city were involved in the system of turnover of time (like money circulation). Many people wrote about this experiment in newspapers, but Livshits did not get the idea of mass character in the Soviet Union. However, thanks to the American reporter David Schipler about the time bank learned in the United States.

The advantages of time banking

Time banks help to overcome the estrangement between people and mutual assistance in the conditions of a new economic trend – gradual reduction of workplaces and a full day,” says Vladlen Livshits, creator of the first time bank. Economist Anton Suvorov agrees with him, who notes that “because of the crisis, people have more free time and less money, but the need to retain their usual way of life with all their strength, therefore, these elegant solutions — get some services for free — quickly found a response. “In addition to the crisis, the development of information technologies pushed the emergence of a bank of services. People earlier simply did not know that a jack of all trades lives on the next street, ”the expert emphasizes. At the same time, representatives of foreign mutual aid services believe in the bright prospects of this project in Russia because “People are very responsive.

Short history of time banking

In 1980, a volunteer movement of the same name arose in the United States. Its founder was a lawyer and public figure, Edgar Kahn. For him, time dollars have become a tool to increase the effectiveness of volunteer activities in the community. This principle allowed everyone to select a suitable job, “pay” for it, as well as monitor and control the performance of volunteer work.


Volunteers say that participation in the time bank programs is suitable for everyone because each person is unique and talented, he can offer others something that no one else will offer. The most popular services of time banks are, as a rule, repair and cleaning of premises, tutoring, massage, manicure, and make-up, services of drivers and couriers. There is particularly strong demand for drivers. But the application is both the easiest and the most exotic skills: the work of one center began with the replacement of lightning on clothes, in the other – Vedic cooking lessons, in the third time clients of the time bank solved the problem with the TV show recording program.

In the very idea of this social project, there are two very important things: on the one hand, mutual assistance. On the other hand, self-help. Thanks to the time bank membership, people have a chance to recognize their hidden resources and opportunities, volunteers say. However, perhaps the main achievement of time banks is that thanks to them, people again begin to communicate life, make friends not in the virtual, but in the real world.

I’m a freelance writer and full-time curious person. My main interests are philosophy, politics, art, culture, science, and how they’re all interlinked. When I’m not writing, I’m fronting a band, producing records, and making videos. I’m also currently working on launching a YouTube channel that will focus on culture and politics. I think blockchain technology is fascinating because of the huge potential it has to revolutionise not only the financial sector, but society as a whole.