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Number of Big Issue sellers accepting cashless payments reaches a thousand

10 May 2022 News

Rob sells The Big Issue outside Waitrose on Marylebone High Street

The Big Issue Group has equipped 1,000 of its vendors with technology that allows them to accept contactless payments. 

This is up by over 68% since this time last year, when only 594 sellers were able to accept the payments.

The Big Issue Group is a social enterprise that began in 1991. It gives homeless people or those at risk of homelessness the opportunity to sell its street newspapers to earn an income. 

Big Issue has found a vendor offering cashless payments will sell up to 35% more magazines than a vendor that only accepts cash. It said its goal is to ensure all 1,500 of its vendors can become cashless by the end of the year. 

‘Significant milestone’

The Big Issue sellers are using Zettle by PayPal to accept the payments. Zettle was launched by PayPal last week, and allows the sellers to accept contactless payments on their phones without any additional hardware or underlying fees. 

Russell Blackman, managing director of commercial at The Big Issue, said: “This is a significant milestone for The Big Issue Group. We have long-recognised that we are operating in an increasingly cashless society, even more so since the pandemic.

“Big Issue vendors are microentrepreneurs, effectively running their own small businesses, so understandably there are many who are keen to offer their customers an alternative to cash. The roll out of the new Tap to Pay feature now lowers the barriers to financial inclusion further, making cashless sales more accessible for more of our vendors.

“This partnership reflects our shared values and commitment to creating a more financially-inclusive society, supporting those whose lives have been blighted by poverty and a lack of opportunity. It has enabled us to work with our vendors to help them manage their finances confidently, using technology to simplify their experience and ensuring they can access the best value of financial products and services.''

In January 2022, there were 1.2bn contactless card transactions, which is 78.7% more than the year prior. 

Dave is a Big Issue vendor and was one of the first to go cashless.  

He said: “Since the pandemic, most people want to pay by card as people don’t use cash these days, and they are often in a rush. So, if they can pay by contactless they know it’s going to be quick and it’s going to be secure as well. And for me, Tap to Pay makes the process even simpler as I only need my phone, and that’s great! It’ll be perfect for new sellers too, as they can get out and start selling magazines with contactless as an option really quickly.”

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