Bartering: Have Hotel, Need Haircut

Illustration for TIME by Mark Matcho

When the check arrives at the Patpong Thai restaurant in Chingford, England, Reg Burrows usually pays with plastic. But Burrows, the owner of an industrial-storage-supply firm, doesn't pull out Visa or American Express. He pulls out Bartercard. As a member of the Bartercard trading network, Burrows receives "trade pounds" instead of cash whenever his firm, Global Equipment Trading, works for fellow Bartercard clients. He can then spend that credit at any of the 75,000 member businesses around the world, including Patpong Thai, where he frequently entertains clients. So far this year, Burrows has exchanged around $410,000 in goods and services, helping...

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