Big Issue sellers to accept contactless payments

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PA Media

Sellers of the Big Issue are now able to accept contactless card payments.

The magazine sold by people who are homeless worked with financial tech company iZettle on the initiative after a trial scheme in five cities.

Some vendors saw 80% of their sales become cashless and card reader devices are now being rolled out across the UK.

Russell Blackman, the Big Issue’s managing director, said the move will allow sellers to “increase their ability to earn a legitimate income”.

He said 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 feels “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 added.

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.

iZettle is making its card readers available to Big Issue vendors for the reduced cost 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.