This page covers Ripple use for Free Geek.
To learn the basics of the Ripple open decentralized payment system, you can start by:
Ripple at Free Geek
Ripple can serve multiple roles at Free Geek. The simplest way to get started and familiar with the system is to use it for straightforward IOUs. To do so, sign up for an account, then connect to people you know by extending them Ripple credit through the interface. This is essentially a measure of how willing you are to let the person borrow from you. This credit space is used by Ripple's open source software to route payments through social networks. Once you have set up your connections, you can enter any IOUs at any time.
Now that you're familiar with using Ripple for IOUs, you can also make any other type of payment. You're paying and getting paid in Ripple through networked personal credit -- that is to say, you're using real community money.
As your Ripple network grows, you can send and receive payments through it more widely.
Free Geek can use a Ripple account to make and receive payments at the thrift shop, to track volunteer hours, and to pay any employees who are interested in receiving any of their pay through Ripple. Buttons can be displayed to allow people to make donations or payments through Ripple.
Suppose Alice wants to give Bob an IOU. An IOU is credit: it says "you can claim this amount from me later". Ripple transactions are credit. So basically Alice and Bob will use Ripple to manage the IOU credit, with the nice benefit that doing so fits into a larger and more powerful network.
To make the actual IOU, Alice logs into her Ripple interface and sends Bob a payment. Remember, Ripple payment is credit, and IOUs are credit, so Alice is paying Bob with a Ripple IOU just as she would with a paper IOU.
This Ripple payment updates the balance between Alice and Bob so that now Alice is indebted to Bob by the payment amount, while Bob is owed by Alice that same amount. Bob has this amount of credit with Alice.
You can think of IOUs as tipping the scale between the two people involved. When Alice pays Bob an IOU, the scale tips so that Bob has more of Alice's credit. When Bob pays back Alice, the scale tips back toward Alice's credit.
With a Ripple account, the Thrift Shop can accept payment for goods from anyone in its credit network. This means that someone would have credit from the store (e.g. if they traded something to the shop, or received payment in credit from the shop). Anyone connected through the Ripple network to a person with store credit would be able to buy from the store this way.
At first it may take some experience to make it completely simple and straightforward to use Ripple at the Thrift Shop, but eventually it should be easy, flexible, and wholesome to use community money with the Thrift Shop.
To track volunteer hours, a volunteer would offer Free Geek credit measured in the number of hours to be volunteered, and Free Geek would then "pay" the volunteer those hours of credit as the actual hours are worked.
Suppose a new volunteer will perform 24 hours of service. The volunteer connects to Free Geek and extends 24 hours of credit. (Credit can be measured in hours, dollars, or any other unit of value.) Then, the volunteer works for four hours, so Free Geek send four hours of credit to the volunteer. After 24 hours of work, Free Geek would have sent 24 hours of credit, which would all be tracked in Ripple.
The hours of credit themselves can also be used for rewards. For instance, in the above example the volunteer could then send those 24 hours of credit back to Free Geek in exchange for a GeekBox.
The Ripple Project is an open source community that's developing new ways to help people exchange goods and services. As Free Geek is among the earlier adopters, any feedback or suggestions would be welcome by the Ripple community to help improve the software and learn how it could be more useful. Please send any feedback to email@example.com, and feel free to get involved in the project!