An Israeli entrepreneur, Amos Meiri, is making cash registers ring in London and Liverpool with his newly introduced digital currency app, designed to boost local businesses.

Colu, Mr Meiri’s company in Tel Aviv, launched the Liverpool pound last December and has had more than 16,000 local residents registering to use the app to make purchases. The “virtual” currency, for which people pay in sterling, can be spent in bars, restaurants, gyms, and even buying tickets for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

Participating businesses pay a small fee for using the system, and attract customers by offering discounts.

Now Colu has launched an east London pound, anticipating that the opportunity to buy locally and fend off big retail chains will appeal to the east London community. Both Liverpool and east London had been chosen, he said, because they had “a unique combination of intense community pride, trendy new businesses and a bustling tech scene”.

You can’t use the east London pound in Liverpool, or vice versa, but Colu say once you have the app it’s easy to join an additional community. “We really want to keep the money local”, Colu say. There are already three local currencies in Israel with almost 50,000 users.