April 12, 2009

Economic Recession Brings Back Oldest Business Method

With the global economic recession taking root, many individuals and small businesses are having to use one of the world's oldest method of transacting business. Bartering is simply providing goods or services for exchange for other goods or services, without the use of money. I read an article by Andrea James on seattlepi.com about Dibspace, a Seattle-based that describes itself similar to Overstock.com for local services. "Every single service business has some amount of productive time that goes unfilled and Dibspace.com is the marketplace for those unfilled hours. And best of all, to make this marketplace work better for everybody involved, all transactions are based on a specialized currency, the Dibit, designed specifically for this purpose."

Why Dibits rather than Dollars? According to Dibspace, which does not charge a registration or transaction, "Because we're all about helping you fill up your workday even when cash is in short supply. Though Dibits aren't cash, the pricing is the same. So if you normally charge $100, you'd charge 100 Dibits on the site." Dibspace allows you to fill in available time with three options: Appointment, Date Range and Available Now. As Ms. James explains, "Small businesses suffer from wasted time -- time when a client is not booked, or a customer cancels at the last minute."

A business submits invoices through Dibspace just like a financial transaction. And what happens if a customer does not pay? After confirming that an invoice was sent and at least three days has elapsed, the provider can file a dispute claim where Dibspace will pay the bill for them and close the transaction.

Who can benefit the most from Dibspace? "Though any business could benefit from Dibspace, it's ideal for businesses whose product is time-dependent. This includes businesses like massage therapists, attorneys, live theaters, yoga studios, spas, local inns, CSAs, consultants, graphic designers, tool rentals..."

Unfortunately, free does not always mean free thanks to the Internal Revenue Service. Ms. James' article explains that even the Internal Revenue Service gets its piece of the pay for cashless transactions. "The IRS considers Dibspace a barter exchange, and mandates that it issue tax forms to clients and to the IRS."

I have yet to try Dibspace, but for those of you who have or using a similar service, I invite you to share your experiences.

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