About Obelio
eLETS Service


The Purpose of Obelio

The established monetary system, by means of its interest mechanism and other factors, causes a steady redistribution of capital from "bottom" to "top". In result a growing amount of wealth is accumulating in the hands of few persons and organisations, whereas the majority of people is slowly sinking into poverty.

Therefore, money is too scarce where it is needed most: As a facilitator of services exchange from man to man. For example, many work seekers can't find purchasers of their skills, because those who need such service simply don't have enough purchasing power to afford it. Actually, just an appropriate medium of exchange is needed to reflate giving and taking at the "bottom", thus allowing everybody to prosper.

This gap is increasingly filled by barter communities which operate in accordance with the LETS (Local Exchange Trading System) principle. LETS participants barter goods and services in exchange for a limited amount of self-created clearing units (sometimes called "community currencies"). These clearing units help maintaining a balance of giving and taking as well as stimulating neighbourly help.

The Obelio eLETS Service is a barter trading portal and an online accounting service for LETS communities. The name "eLETS" stands for "electronic LETS". This means the administrative operations and accounting transactions can be performed electronically, i.e. via the computer and the Internet. This way, Obelio supports LETS communities to fully take advantage of the Internet for their barter purposes.

Obelio supports a blended online/offline operation of LETS. By means of LETS cheques (or barter booklets respectively) and printed market journals even those LETS members can participate who have no access to the Internet. In this case the administrators of the respective LETS community function as intermediaries between the "paper world" and the "Internet world" by typing in the advertisements and the offline members' LETS transactions into Obelio, as well as creating a printed market journal via Obelio.

Obelio is provided as a web service in order to reduce the accounting effort of the LETS back offices. With the Obelio web service LETS offices no longer have a need to operate their own accounting server and software.

Obelio put great emphasis on maintaining the sovereignty of LETS groups over their individual market rules and data. However, these market rules have to be compatible with the General Terms & Conditions of the Obelio eLETS Service.

Services Overview

Obelio is providing the following services to barter communities:

  • Management of clearing accounts for barter, view of the account statement
  • On-line payments, wire transfers, direct debiting, and standing orders for clearing accounts
  • Collection and redistribution of hording fees (demurrage) with definable rules
  • Automatic transfer of member fees (in clearing units) to the LETS organisations
  • A blended online/offline LETS operation is possible by means of electronically signed LETS cheques (or barter booklets respectively)
  • Management of classified advertisements: Entering, searching, displaying, modifying and deleting ads via the Internet
  • Editible category structure, which can be adjusted to the needs of the respective LETS community
  • Data export for preparing a printed market journal for a barter community, Microsoft Word layout template
  • Anonymised market journal for guests. This function is accessible as a hyperlink embedded in other web pages.
  • Comprehensive link collection about barter communities, LETS economics, and money theory
  • Hosting services for the web sites of LETS organisations
  • Personal web space allowing members to publish illustrated detailed information about their offerings
  • A spam-protected messaging service for the closed user group of members: Messages, orders, billing with automatic LETS credit assessment, reclamations. Message forwarding to email is possible.
  • A powerful search engine for the Obelio content (advertisements, account names / contact data, subscribers, account balances, messages, transactions, etc.)
  • High data security: Only registered subscribers have access, password protection, SSL encryption, frequent data backup
  • Graded roles and rights management: Allocation of proxy rights and administrative rights
  • Multi-lingual user interface (currently supported: German, English and Italian), easily extendible
  • Data import from other software programs or tables (Microsoft Excel, CSV, etc.)
  • Guest login: Everybody can explore the functionality of Obelio online, including the administrative functions
  • Software maintenance: Error diagnosis and prompt bug fixing
  • User support via email and phone plus additional complementary services
  • Multi-tenant capabilities: Each barter community constitutes a closed user group in Obelio having a separate set of advertisements and an independent clearing unit
  • Each LETS community defines its own set of market rules in Obelio: Initial account balance, procedure for leaving participants, subscriber fees, overdraft limit, name of the clearing unit, category structure, foreign exchange accounts, etc.
  • Minimal dependencies: At any time LETS communities can export the entire data inventory (in CSV, Excel, etc.) of their community for shifting operation to their own server system. The Obelio software can also be downloaded free of charge for self operation.
  • Statistical analysis: The number of participants, advertisements and barter transactions, the circulation velocity and circulation quantity of the clearing units, etc.
  • Mechanisms for old-age pensions on a LETS basis: A "hording-free" pension account and automatic pension payments
  • Management of mailing lists, printing of address labels
  • Supra-regional transfer of clearing units via foreign trade accounts. Mechanisms which maintain a long-term balance of the import and export volumes

OpenObelio Software Download

An Open Source release of the Obelio software dubbed "OpenObelio eLETS Software" is licenced under GNU General Public Licence (GPL) v3 to the community of Open Source software developers and other users. The OpenObelio software can be downloded free of charge at this link:
OpenObelio 2.0 for Linux

The system requirements and an installation guide can be found here:

In case you want to contribute to the development of the OpenObelio software or you need help during the installation, please contact Lutz Jaitner.

Obelio is Not a Bank

Obelio does not provide any financial services. For example, you cannot borrow money from Obelio. The balances of the clearing accounts are not convertible to currencies like euro or dollar. Likewise, you can't increase your clearing account balance by paying money to Obelio. All account transfers are confined to clearing accounts of the barter communities.

According to the principles of LETS each new member is bringing a fixed amount of clearing units into circulation through entering the respective community. This can be done by providing an initial account balance or by allowing a certain overdraft limit. When a member quits the community, the same amount of clearing units will be withdrawn from circulation.

This mechanism is either fully computer-automated or administered by the LETS communities. The details are determined by the market rules of the respective community. Obelio as an organisation assumes no role of actively controlling the total amount of circulating clearing units. Obelio is not the creator of the clearing units. The Obelio software merely keeps track of clearing account balances and barter transactions.

Obelio doesn't store the medium of exchange. The judicial storage location of the LETS clearing units are the paper printouts of the account statements including the account balances, which Obelio users (or their LETS organisation on behalf of them) produce via the Obelio eLETS service.

The clearing accounts kept by Obelio are shadow accounts in the sense of a book-keeping software. The accounted clearing units are not electronic media of exchange as defined by the Electronic Money Directive of the European Union.

The clearing units of LETS communities working with Obelio are not money in the sense of a legal tender.

For all these reasons Obelio does not participate in the clearing mechanism of banks and is not subject to banking supervision.