#4. Bottle caps
You may not be entirely familiar with the African republic of Cameroon, but all you really need to know is that it's apparently populated with scores of enterprising drunkards. Breweries in Cameroon, like the Coca-Cola company here in North America, thought putting prizes under the bottle caps would be a pretty sweet way to gain a sales advantage over the competition. The competition agreed and then pretty much every beer company had prizes under the caps.
Unlike Coca-Cola, where you've got a small fraction of a chance to win anything, the beer companies have a prize under almost every cap. The smallest prize is a beer and larger prizes include cell phones and luxury cars, because if you're piss drunk on mountains of free beer, you'll need to call someone to tow your wrecked luxury car.
Since a beer is worth about a buck and apparently everyone and their uncle is an alcoholic, locals have started using the caps instead of money to pay for things like cab rides. The cab drivers, possibly due to being drunk, end up having run-ins with the local cops, who they in turn pay off with bottle caps.
It's a fun cycle of alcoholic enabling that can't possibly be profitable for the breweries, but we're guessing their executives are also much too drunk to care.
If you've never been to Canada, or never needed to shop for slightly overpriced retail items at a store that's basically Wal-Mart with a worse selection, you may not be familiar with Canadian Tire.
Nonetheless, Canadian Tire has been offering Canadian Tire Money for about 50 years. It looks vaguely like real money and serves as a customer loyalty program. You make a purchase and a certain percentage of the money you spent is given back to you in the form of Canadian Tire money, which are coupons redeemable for any item at the store. Generally you spend a few bucks and are given a few cents. It's quite unremarkable.
What's remarkable is that businesses across Canada such as liquor stores and small bars have adopted Canadian Tire money as a real substitute for cash and will accept it on a number of transactions. As Canadian Tire also operates their own chain of gas stations, numerous smaller businesses are willing to accept the money which they can then use to shop for items or gas at Canadian Tire. eBay Canada accepts Canadian Tire money as an official form of payment and back in the 90s, a German criminal committed to buying a lot of car parts and camping supplies was caught with $11,000,000 in counterfeit Canadian Tire money.
Because condoms full of piss can't buy everything, like love, or something that doesn't smell like piss, prison economics give us another winner with Mackerel. Ever since smoking started to be banned in prisons a few years back, prisoners needed something else to serve as the local currency. Straight out of left field came mackerel. We wish that "mackerel" was some new, hip prison slang, but it's not. We're totally talking about fish.
The mackerel is stuffed into plastic and foil packages and distributed to the prisoners, because (as if prison wasn't bad enough) everyone should have to carry around little change purses full of rotting, disgusting fish all day. Two packs of mackerel will apparently get you a haircut and, if the Wall Street Journal is to believed, prisoners actually call it "the mack" which we're not about to make fun of because we don't want a nation of fish-wielding felons angry with us. The reason mackerel is so popular as a stand-in for money is that a pouch costs a dollar and no one actually wants to eat it. This in turn may make you wonder why anyone wants the packs at all, but you have to remember it's prison and they need something other than toilet wine and hate crimes to keep them busy. And, again, the nightly, violent sodomy.[subtitle]#1. Space Money[/subtitle]
As you may or may not be aware, no one lives in space. Nonetheless, the National Space Centre and the University of Leicester in England designed the "Quid," the Quasi Universal Intergalactic Denomination, as a means of currency for interplanetary travelers. Again, we would be remiss if we failed to point out that there are currently no interplanetary travelers.
According to actual scientists with real credentials who invented the currency, it's made from polymers and has no sharp edges, unlike our modern coins which are responsible for no less than 500 decapitations per year in Idaho alone. Because it's predicted we could be taking regular trips into space to visit Disney MoonWorld as early as 2050, it's a good thing they got on inventing a suitable currency now so it will have plenty of time to devalue before it's needed and future moon strippers will be able to improvise a way to hold smooth plastic nuggets in their G-strings.
More of Ian's writing can be found at Scenic Anemia.
For more frightening facts about money, check out The 6 Most Horrifying Ways Anyone Ever Got Rich. Or find out about some celebrities who wish they could use their bodily fluids to pay for groceries in 6 Famous People Who Pissed Away a Fortune.