Big Issue vendors to accept contactless payments

The anti-poverty charity is rolling out contactless card devices around the country after a successful pilot scheme

Big Issue vendor Mike Hall with his contactless card machine
Big Issue vendor Mike Hall with his contactless card machine

Big Issue vendors across the country will be able to accept contactless card payments after a successful pilot.

Vendors in seven cities around the UK trialled the iZettle devices between December 2018 and May 2019, and on average found that a quarter of their sales were made through contactless card transactions.

Two vendors made about 80 per cent of their sales using the devices, a Big Issue statement said.

The use of iZettle devices will now be rolled out nationwide as part of an initiative to help Big Issue vendors continue to make a living in an increasingly cashless society.

Hugh Palmer, who sells copies of the magazine in London’s St Paul’s underground station, said offering contactless payments meant customers were more likely to see him as trustworthy.

"You fit back into society," he said. "Before, when it was cash only, you would get days when people just didn’t buy the magazine from you."

Mike Hall, a Big Issue vendor at Bristol Temple Meads train station, said he had seen sales increase by a third since he began using the device.

Big Issue vendors buy copies of the magazine at 50 per cent of the cover price in order to sell them on.

Russell Blackman, managing director of The Big Issue, said: "Big Issue vendors are micro-entrepreneurs, effectively running their own small businesses.

"It has long been our intention to provide our vendors with the opportunity to cater for their customers’ needs and increase their ability to earn a legitimate income.

"The Big Issue looks forward to, in partnership with iZettle, rolling the initiative out nationally in 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."

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