Bartering back with Bartercard

Bartercard is an innovative service that allows growing business to trade with each other without using hard cash. UK managing director Ian Jones talks to GrowthBusiness.

What is the principle behind Bartercard?
Bartercard allows businesses to exchange goods and services without using cash. It’s basically a business-to-business trade exchange, where companies pay for some of their purchases with their own products and/or services. And because it utilises a uniform currency, it makes it much easier for businesses to trade globally.

How does the system work?
The scheme uses a currency called a trade pound and members’ goods and services are given a value equivalent to their market price. Members then trade using their goods and services, but are actually paying for purchases with their own inventory items, which have only cost them wholesale. So, each time you spend a trade pound you save whatever is your mark-up profit margin.

Why does bartering help growing companies?
By trading using products and services, growing companies free up cash and therefore ease their cash flow. Many growing companies often have unsold goods on their shelves or empty capacity, which is like having unused £20 notes lying around. Bartering can help realise the value of this surplus stock. Bartercard members also tend to go out of their way to buy from a fellow member and, because they have trade credits in their account to spend, are likely to make larger purchases than usual. Small and medium-sized companies can gain a competitive advantage over their larger rivals by accepting a flexible form of payment that huge conglomerates would not entertain.

How many UK companies are involved?
Around 3,500 UK businesses are members of the Bartercard directory, ranging from printers and publishers to shops and restaurants. The joining fee is anywhere between £997 and £2,497, depending on the service companies want. The scheme has grown by 32 per cent a year in the UK, probably because we’re a nation of shopkeepers at heart and like to get the most we can from buying and selling our wares.

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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