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I’ve spent my life in an industry (construction) that runs on “contras”, generally I think they can work (with some caveats).

e.g. Client/associate/friend of 20 years standing couldn’t pay his bill, no point cracking it … I just happened to be connecting a new sewer, so I took his 4.5 ton excavator for a few days. He cut out his bill at his full “bare hire” rate, I didn’t have to find the cash to hire a machine, or float it. The exchange took place at our normal agreed $ rates – minus the paperwork. Win, win IMO.

Over the years I’ve done heaps of contras on labour and equipment and didn’t see any losers, them or me.

Having said all that, I don’t think it works easily across industries, too hard to equate value and keep track. You also need a solid relationship (trust) with those you do it with.

As mentioned, actual “products” or “widgets” would be hard to do easily.

Formal exchanges like Bartercard don’t appeal for all the reasons already listed.