In times of trouble, society invents new forms of money out of necessity. The USA saw thousands of communities use community issued scrip during hard times. During the Banking Panic of 1907, there was a terrible shortage of money in the USA.

Instead of general collapse, people found ways to use new forms of money. Clearinghouse currencies in the small denomination were marked “payable through the clearinghouse,” and the member banks agreed to accept them. Negotiable cashier’s checks were written in 5, 10, or 20-dollar amounts and were payable to some person or entity, “John Smith” or “bearer” or such. These were technically illegal but accepted by the population. Companies paid employees in large numbers of small amounts of scrip. The scrip was the liability of the company issuing it and was passed from hand to hand as a form of money. Some streetcar companies paid their employees in streetcar tokens and tickets.

These circulated well as they had value as streetcar rides. In 1907, banks went along with this as it helped to prevent runs on banks. People used alternative currencies and did not need to withdraw so much money from the bank. With a severe shortage of money in the city, people figured out how to deal with the situation.