UK

Big Issue sellers to accept contactless payments

The Big Issue seller Image copyright PA Media

Sellers of the Big Issue can join a scheme allowing them to accept contactless card payments.

The magazine, sold by people to lift themselves out of poverty, launched the initiative as consumers are moving away from using cash for small purchases.

Vendors involved in a trial scheme in five cities saw 80% of sales become cashless.

Russell Blackman from the Big Issue said sellers would "increase their ability to earn a legitimate income".

The magazine's managing director added the scheme was "an effort to improve levels of financial inclusion for vendors, who often live lives that are blighted by poverty and who have difficulty accessing mainstream financial services and products typically offered by retail banks".

Jim Hannah, 59, who sells the magazine in Norwich, said he was "really pleased" to be able to offer card payments and now felt "ready for a cashless future".

"Before all this started I had no ID, no bank account and a rubbish phone and now I have a decent smartphone, a passport, a bank account and a card reader," he said.

Mike Hall, 29, who sells the magazine inside Bristol Temple Meads railway station said: "It has been really important in attracting more customers to buy copies of the magazine from me".

Other Big Issue sellers, like Robin Fabian in Bristol, bought a card reader for themselves before the pilot started after potential customers told them they did not carry cash.

Financial technology company iZettle is making card readers available to Big Issue vendors for the reduced price of £9 and says they will benefit from a per-transaction fee "significantly lower" than its standard rate of 1.75%.

Launched in 1991, the Big Issue is sold by people who are homeless or close to homeless. Vendors buy each magazine for £1.25, before selling them on for £2.50.

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