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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Friday, 30.10.2020, 21:58

Estonians to launch first e-Bank of Happiness

Juhan Tere, BC, Tallinn, 21.09.2009.Print version
Estonia's Onnepank – the so-called e-Bank of Happiness, the world's first, is going to start operation soon with a goal to promote the idea of doing good deeds for free, Tigerprises/LETA reports.

The aim of the bank is to bring together those, who are in need of help and those who can help. In the e-bank one can exchange information on needs, offer help and register good deeds. For every good deed you get a Star of Gratitude and the person with the biggest number of Stars will become one of the happiest in the world.


Birgit Tolmann, one of the founders of the Bank of Happiness, says that the goal of the bank is to change the way people think – that they shouldn't measure all their deeds in money. Sometimes the traditional way of helping our friends and neighbours without receiving material compensation is the best thing to do. Until now the bank has held promotional events and advertised its ideas on the web and media. Now, with the e-bank the whole project gets brand new power.


Technology helps to bring the people in need and the people with the possibility to help together. There are many ways we can help each other, sometimes with even with very little effort. In many cases however we don't do that because we don't have the relevant information. For example, we don't know if our elderly neighbour is in serious need of some groceries that we might easily pick up together with our own goods in the Super Market. Babysitting, car-pooling, there are many ways we can do things together.


There are no other Happiness banks in the world; therefore, there were also no standard procedures or general rules for such a bank. All the procedures had to be created from scratch and this was a great work. The procedures were re-thought a number of times. As the e-Bank is meant for everybody, the team put serious effort into creating an easy to use interface. The result is good. The design is pretty and you don't get lost in the system. As with ordinary banks the team had to put thought into security. Everyone in the bank is authenticated with an ID-card or internet-bank account.


Bank of happiness was started as a volunteer project one and a half years ago. Although the web development was financed by The Estonian Fund of Citizen Society, the overall project has been run with practically no money and has achieved a lot considering that.


"It is really difficult to run a volunteer project", said Tolmann, "Sooner or later people start to worry about their work and families and tend to drop out."


But The Bank of Happiness has succeeded. They have built a strong core group and there are now also local representatives in the counties and towns of Estonia.


The next few months after the launch of the e-Bank will be spent on fine-tuning the IT system and promoting it. The team has also many plans for developing the e-Bank – adding extra functionality to it and creating new possibilities for people to interact. One of the new initiatives is to get the State and local municipalities involved by letting the social workers use the system. This would greatly benefit the whole society, but needs some minor changes in the legislation.


Hopefully, the project gives a good example for the rest of the world and there will be such initiatives launched in other countries as well.

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