Barter Economy Back In Panama
With the current global financial crisis, bartering, a practice that predates any modern form of currency, reemerges as a possible solution to the credit crunch. Today’s technological advances make barter a natural means of economic exchange — one that has returned to center stage.
John Castoro, owner of the New York and New Jersey franchises of ITEX which handle $250,000,000 worth of deals a year, has 14 years experience in the trade exchange/barter business. He and other investors bought ITEX’s web-platform for Latin America, choosing Panama as the launch pad for the venture because of its dollar-based economy.
Initially in Panama to deal in real estate, locals — after learning about his background in the barter field — encouraged him to set up a similar trading network in their country. Consequently, trading services have been available since May and are targeted at businesses where the variable costs are low, such as hotels, media, and service related businesses. Members of the cashless marketplace can buy and sell products and services to each other, using accrued credits within the ITEX system instead of real cash.
“The point is, we take your company’s unused capacity, and bring you new business,” said Castoro. ITEX aims to give its customers 5-10% extra business which would not normally take place if dealing with cash. These are transactions business agree to only because it’s on barter.” Castoro also promises to help clients keep their cash, and most importantly enhance their lifestyle.
“With bartering,” Castoro noted, “you do things you wouldn’t do in the cash world.” An example? Castoro indulges in limo rides once in a while, a service provided by one of the ITEX clients in New York, and one which he would never dream of paying for with cash. Castoro admitted, “It’s just like having another bank account.”
ITEX customers get a checkbook, and 24-hour access to the online service, where they can both list the services they are offering and check out services other clients offer. When a beneficial transaction is identified, clients call a trade director and let them know what they are offering and what they want in return.
The company generates revenue by charging a $20 fee per month (waived when you refer 3 new clients), and 6% transaction fee to both sellers and buyers. Over 50 local Panamanian businesses, from doctors and lawyers to boutique hotels and restaurants, are customers of ITEX’s bartering system. All of which can barter services among themselves and with any of ITEX’s North American clients.
For more information on ITEX go to www.itex.com.