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Commercial Barter Industry Looks To Emulate Visa Card Model

The seed has been planted and the commercial barter industry, struggling to find its place in the world of commerce, will undergo a transformation in the coming years that promises to catapult it into an incredibly important position in the business world.

In 1968, a 38-year-old assistant banker in Seattle named Dee Hock revolutionized the way the banking community interacted with the Visa credit card model, where banks would cooperate with one another to process Visa cards anywhere at any time.

Today the Visa International network is the largest business enterprise globally, with annual sales volume of $4 trillion. There are 22,000 financial institutions operating in over 200 countries, serving one billion customers.

The world�s gross domestic product now approximates $49 trillion. Therefore, a conservative figure of the unused time and unsold products would number in the trillions.

By emulating the Visa model, the commercial barter industry can create a new enterprise whereby millions of business owners could monetize their unsold time/products. The incredible wealth created could provide the needed capitalization to build business communities around the globe, provide needed jobs and other opportunities, as well as moving millions out of poverty.

�It�s time to re-conceive the very idea of �barter exchange� and payment to realize the full potential of cashless exchange.�

�Thomas Greco, Jr.,
Keynote Speaker at IRTA Convention,
September 15, 2006

A three-year persistent focus by IRTA�s (International Reciprocal Trade Association) Executive Director Krista Vardabash and the Board of Directors, led by President Lois Dale, has made an impact on the commercial barter industry�by changing the vision of possibilities within the commercial barter industry.

A door has been pushed open revealing heretofore unimagined opportunities and, predictably, the �business as usual� thinking of the past is no longer enough.

The evolution is underway, and could well morph into a huge inter-connecting network of trade exchanges working cooperatively together. This global network would provide service to millions of business owners, enabling them to turn unused time and unsold products & services into a valuable form of capital to build and expand their companies.

The focus on catapulting the industry forward began on IRTA�s 25th Anniversary, at the 2004 Cancun convention, when former IRTA Executive director Paul Suplizio (who passionately led the organization its first 16 years) provided his lucid vision of the future. (Story on lower right side of home page.)

Then last year Bernard Lietaer, an expert on monetary systems (while at the Central Bank of Belgium he co-designed and implemented the convergence mechanism, ECU, for the single European currency system) and author of The Future of Money: Creating New Wealth, Work and a Wiser World, addressed attendees at IRTA�s convention in Orlando.

He skillfully carried the baton forward when he pointed out to the IRTA members the problems with the many world currencies, even suggesting that within five years we will see financial convulsions in world financial markets. (  and

Lietaer further elaborated that the commercial barter industry had an unprecedented, immense opportunity to create an organization of such importance that it could someday rank among the elite institutions of the world. And he emphasized that it was possible to achieve, if action were taken by the assembled entrepreneurs.

�We�ve proven it can fly, but we�re now like the Wright Brothers years ago�just at the beginning of something that�s going to be dramatic.� Lietaer further assured the group it could all begin with a few visionaries willing to take bold action by beginning to walk in the footsteps of Dee Hock, the architect of Visa. �We�re all, the people in this room, putting the blocks in place to build a beautiful cathedral.�

It was a stunning eye-opener from a world-renowned monetary authority. The attendees left the convention wrestling with his suggestion that the possibility existed to literally make a positive change in the world�s financial infrastructure.

This year�s keynote speaker was Thomas Greco, Jr., an independent scholar, educator and writer, who has been working at the leading edge of transformational restructuring for more than 30 years.

His expertise includes private currency and exchange system development, the theory and history of money and banking, statistical analysis, and survey research. Greco�s books include: Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender, New Money for Healthy Communities, and Money and Debt: A solution to the Global Crisis.

His bold, succinct message paralleled that of his two predecessors, and once again he hammered home that the commercial barter industry could build the financial stabilizer for the world business community through the development of a global trade exchange network...utilizing a valuable goods/services backed currency. 

Greco pointed out to the trade exchange owners that the fastest way to amp up the worth of their own network is to work together. As participating exchanges expand their membership to include all levels of the supply chain (from retailers to wholesalers to manufacturers to basic commodity producers to consumers and workers) every member is able to pay their suppliers with trade credits. Thus becoming a global payment system for the business community

As this larger �Network� becomes more valuable, so will each individual exchange within the network. When established, the �Network� will be an enabling organization that exists for the sole purpose of assisting participating exchanges and their members. It will operate separately from the industry�s trade associations.

With the knowledge of the past and the technology that exists today, immense possibilities are now at the industry�s beckoning. After decades of effort and striving there are now trade exchanges in 42 countries around the world...widening the path to greater possibilities of success and accomplishment.

What we do today as an industry will determine what we will be tomorrow.

Thomas Greco, Jr. can be contacted at:
P.O. Box 42663, Tucson, Arizona 85733
Ph: (520) 795-8930; e-mail:
Web site:

�This idea is something that is very important to the barter world and of great interest to me personally.�

�Karen Welch, President of We Trade Network

I was so heartened with the presentations and conversations at the IRTA convention just concluded at the TradeWinds Hotel in St. Petersburg Beach (FL).

Specifically, I was interested in the GETS program (Global Exchange Trading System). This is proposed to work much like the Visa model where various trade exchanges keep their fee structure, brand, etc.; and the system allows members to see items available from members of other trade exchanges, and actually make purchases and/or sales.

There will need to be some sort of standard that trade exchanges must meet in order to participate. This is exactly what my partner and I have been discussing as an ideal for the industry.

I�m thankful to see that someone�s taking the steps to implement such a system. I would love to offer whatever help I can in order to get this moving forward. We�re a small exchange in Montana, but this idea is something that is very important to the barter world and of great interest to me personally.

For those exchanges that are well-established this many not seem as important, and change is challenging. But the benefits of such a system far outweigh the energy required to implement it.

Member to member trading on a broader basis than local, would make trade much more valuable to all individual members, and the exchanges. More trade would be the result. 

Cooperation works so much better than competition.

Karen Welch, CTB, President
We Trade Network
Kalispell and Missoula, Montana
Phone (406) 833-5022

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