The Wall St. journal reported in October 2000, that a wealthy Italian Professor, Giancinto Auriti, “hoped to convince the world that central bankers are the biggest con artists in modern history.” He claimed that when money is loaned out at interest by banks, it has roughly half the purchasing power than if it were divided among the people for free. So he decided to test his theory in his small hometown of Guardiagrele, Italy. He issued a debt-free alternative currency, called simec, and offered it at an exchange rate of 1-to-1.
Soon enough people discovered that one simec had the purchasing power of two lire and goods started flying off the shelves! Participating merchants were thrilled while stores that didn’t accept simec were empty. 2.5 billion simec circulated rapidly.
Due to its success, local merchants eventually formed a committee, with the Professor as the head, to keep the program going. This program needed a wealthy benefactor to get it started (which the government could easily do itself), but it still shows the great potential of debt-free currency to facilitate economic growth and prosperity.