Few people had heard of the United Future World Currency movement until Russian President Dimitri Medvyedev held up one of the prototype coins in support of the concept of an alternative world currency to the US Dollar. He was heard to comment, “Here it is, you can see it and touch it. This is a symbol of our unity and our desire to settle such issues jointly.”
With this statement from Medvedev, the world’s media glare focused on the idea of a worldwide single currency alternative to replace the US dollar as a potential and feasible alternative. Dr. Alessandro Sassoli has been behind the idea of this project for more than 14 years. Since that momentous news story, the UFWC project has taken on a life of its own. There have however, been several supporters of the idea along the way, including the likes of the late Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Harper, the late Pope John Paul II, present Pope Benedict XVI, and even Princess Elettra Marconi, daughter of famed communications pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, to name but a few.
I first met Dr. Sassoli earlier this year at the World Money Fair in Berlin as he was exhibiting to interested coin enthusiasts examples of the very coins he had presented to the world’s heads of states and governments. While on a recent visit to London, we had the chance to catch up and discuss his project in detail and speak about the aims which he hopes to achieve, uniting the world with a coin!
Michael Alexander: It’s a pleasure speaking with you today, but first, I have to ask, the UFWC came to the forefront of international media attention only after the Russian President held up one of your coins in support of your movement at the last G-8 meeting in Italy, why has it taken so long for the world to find out about this extraordinary project that you’ve organized?
Dr. Alessandro Sassoli: The idea of a super-continental currency began in 1996 during a meeting I had with professor Arthur Shlessinger Jr, who was an advisor to President Kennedy. But the time to go ahead with a detailed plan of action wasn’t right. The new European single currency was on the minds of almost all Europeans and the world, and there were still a lot of problems to solve. The thought of an international currency had to be put on hold. In 2000 and with just two years before the introduction of EURO banknotes and coins, I registered the trademark “Eurodollar”. The thought behind this was looking for a way of linking in a monetary capacity, the USA and Europe. We finally launched the project at the G8 summit in Italy, July 2009. The Cabinet of the Italian Prime Minister hosting the G-8 gave me their approval to present model coins to all the World Leaders attending. It could have been the end of the subject there and then and all I might have hoped for was a “thank you” letter from their secretaries or personal assistants. It wasn’t until Russian President Medvedev held up the coin with such enthusiasm during his press conference for all of the world’s media to see and I was astonished! “That’s our coin!” and the project of the United Future World Currency (UFWC) was really launched in a big way. Obviously this meant that the time for us was right. In September 2009, I was interviewed for the first time by CNN International about the UFWC, that also helped quite a lot!
MA: You mentioned an earlier meeting with Arthur Shlessinger which sparked off this idea but just what inspired you to organize the UFWC project itself…?
DAS: The project’s aim is very clear and straight-forward and that is for a single currency that seeks to unify our continents which is the UFWC’s ultimate goal. We hold the example of the EURO as evidence that many countries can come together, especially during a period of international crisis. I think we can all agree that the EURO has been tested recently! In the world there are still approximately 150 different national currencies, I think that’s too many for an increasingly integrated global community. In our program, currency as it is defined, assumes the principle goal which it has had since its invention centuries ago: to facilitate and codify human commercial and social exchange. It becomes a pure form of “communication” between different peoples – a communication of ideas, principles, information and culture.
MA: Speaking of the EURO being tested, under the present circumstances with Greece, do you think it’s still a good idea to support a EURO-zone currency let alone a world-wide single currency?
DAS: Yes, of course! Even though it has had some difficulties recently, this is something which all currencies experience, even the pound or dollar. I believe the EURO has become a symbol of unity in Europe, we have had the EURO since 1999, we’ve used it every day since 2002 and it is here to stay. We as Europeans must support it and now many of us can’t think of ever going back to national currencies. Of course, we shouldn’t forget our legacy currencies because they represented the history and culture of a country. I promoted and organized the Italian Lira farewell celebrations here in Italy, including producing a Monument to the Lira, made with three tons of old coins.
MA: There are many influential people supporting the UFWC, do you think there would be many more supporters if the project was better understood, and if so, what do you want the public to know about the UFWC project more than anything else?
DAS: Many people in the world believe that the project is a positive one and believe it’s possible for this to become reality in the next ten years, but it isn’t easy to promote a project like this. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, director of the IMF stated that it would be “intellectually sane” to explore the possibility of a new global currency in order to diminish the dependence from the Dollar. Nobel Prize professor Joseph Stiglitz has said he is sure that a new global currency – even a partial one, is possible. The momentum is there around the world, it’s just getting more people to hear about our project and really decide for themselves. Our project has presented the international community with the idea. Now, it has to be a project which has support not just from the powerful and well-known, but from ordinary citizens like myself around the world to make it happen.
MA: How do you envisage the UFWC units of currency fitting within a world of Dollars, EURO’s and Yen, and possibly other regions where there will be a single currency at some stage? Does your project have an element of being anti US Dollar or EURO?
DAS: No, not at all! Our project is in favor of both major currencies, the Dollar and the Euro equally! Our ideal unit would be a fusion of both currencies, plus some others such as the Japanese Yen, the British Pound and maybe even the Swiss Franc, providing the current status of the Swiss Banks and tax status is resolved. In our Manifesto, paragraphs 2 and 3 of the UFWC, we clearly state our goals and relationship that a unified currency unit would have with these two powerful and important currencies.
MA: We’re going to discuss the coins now, the ones which were presented to the heads of State and governments last year in L’Aquila. Can you tell me a little about their design and if they have any specific meaning?
DAS: I’m glad you asked about this! Yes, the designs do have some symbolism. On the obverse of the one unit coins which we presented, the coin has the numeral “1” repeated five times in subtle layers which represent our five inhabited continents and the year of “2009” beside it. The coin includes five stars and carries the inscription “UNITY IN DIVERSITY” which is of course the basic idea behind our concept and project. This was the side of the coin which was designed by Luc Luycx (who is the designer of the common reverse of the EURO-zone coins) and very well I must say. The reverse of the coin shows a beautiful “Tree of Life” which also has five different kinds of leaves, each leaf can be found growing on all five continents. The inscription reads “UNITED FUTURE WORLD CURRENCY”. The designer for this side was Laura Cretara who was the former Chief engraver at the Italian State Mint who also designed the Italian 1 Euro coin. I’m very proud of the high levels of craftsmanship which resulted!
MA: Why were they struck at the Royal Belgian Mint?
DAS: The choice of the Royal Belgian Mint was because Luc Luycx is associated with them. I would like to mention that they did an excellent job striking these coins, we have had many compliments regarding these examples!
MA: I understand that other coins minted, can you explain when and how future examples will be struck?
DAS: Yes, actually there will be new issues of prototype coins this year. Within our new program many Mints will be joining the project. The Royal Mint of Belgium was the first, and I’m pleased to announce that the second National Mint to strike UFWC coins is the Casa de Moneda de in Mexico. Future coins are scheduled to be struck at the Italian State Mint and the Royal Mint here in the United Kingdom are scheduled to strike a very limited number of Palladium prototype coins. The Israeli Mint designed their UFWC coin inspired by world peace. We’re trying to spread the concept of a world-wide currency unit with some of the most important mints in the world. Eventually, we would like to have all five continents striking the future coins at the same time.
MA: You mention future coins, can you determine when the UFWC will decide on a final name, you can’t call them UFWC units forever?
DAS: No, you’re right, (smiles) and the name of the new currency has not yet been decided on. We are looking to involve as many School students worldwide as possible in order to name the UFWC coin, this will also include a symbol for international use. The EURO was for a very long time referred to as the ECU until a Finance Minister’s meeting in 1997 and they decided the future European single currency would be known as the EURO.
MA: Have there been counterfeit examples of the G-8 coins appearing on some auction websites? If so, what have you done to alert your supporters about these fakes and will your organization begin to offer genuine examples at a later date?
DAS: Yes, it’s true, there have been some of these coins found in the market and yes, these are all fake! Our organization has posted a warning about this on our website. I suppose it means that there is significant interest in our prototype coins so much so that someone out there will risk arrest and punishment if they are caught selling counterfeit merchandise. They must remember that our organization owns the copyright on their designs and only our office can authorize the sale of these coins, which we will be doing in the near future. If your readers do come across one of these fakes, please let us know about it, we would then inform the local authorities to protect both our name and our potential customers.
MA: Overall, how do you envisage your project developing in the next couple of years? Where do you see the UFWC and the actual units of currency in five years?
DAS: The world is evolving very fast. Maybe in just 8 years time, it might be possible to introduce a new super-national currency like the UFWC by 2018. However, in 2015, we will be conducting the most important test in our project’s short history with the Universal Exposition in Milan. We made contact with Mr. Lucio Stanca, the President of Expo 15’ who is very interested in launching the UFWC in the area of the Expo itself. It means that the expected 20 million visitors from around the world will experience the new currency, which will also have an “intelligent” function similar to that of a credit card. We are currently studying solutions with electronic engineers for this very function which we hope will produce a smart, high-tech “coin of the future”. But also we want to safeguard the traditional function of coins as far as the artistic aspect is concerned. We would still want to communicate beauty, culture, history, innovation and of course, the human spirit!
MA: Very well said! Dr. Alessandro Sassoli, coordinator of the United Future World Currency, thank you very much for your time today.
DAS: It’s been my pleasure speaking with you and to all your readers!
More information on the United Future World Currency Project can be found at http://www.futureworldcurrency.com