the big issue

The Big Issue trials ‘resellable’ magazines

Image credit: pa

The Big Issue is trialling a new system that allows its magazines to be resold using QR codes, enabling the original vendor to profit a second time.

The Big Issue is a street newspaper, founded in 1991, designed to offer homeless people, or individuals at risk of homelessness, the opportunity to earn a legitimate income. The magazine has attracted big stars to appear on its cover in the past and often deals with social issues.

Each copy of the magazine will now come with a scannable QR code, allowing readers to pass the magazine to a friend who can scan the code to pay for it again.

The scheme, called ‘Pay It Forward’, aims to help magazine sellers earn more money, especially as they operate in an increasingly cashless society.

The project is launching with a limited number of trials. Up to 20 vendors around the UK will be involved and each will be helped into the financial system, with digital bank Monzo supporting them to open bank accounts as part of the trial.

Lara McCullagh, director of marketing and communications at The Big Issue, said: “The people who buy The Big Issue aren’t just readers, they’re often vocal champions of our mission.

“This fantastic new scheme gives them a way to further support their local vendor by selling the magazine on to friends and family and offers those same vendors the opportunity to grow their income and their customer base.”

Lew Isaacs, of Monzo, said: “In the last 10 years, the number of cash payments has halved and although paying by card is convenient, the falling use of cash has real consequences for people in poverty and organisations like The Big Issue.

“We hope Pay It Forward will help grow the earnings of Big Issue sellers when readers pass the magazine on to their friends. Our goal is to give more vulnerable people access to financial services and help The Big Issue continue its crucial work.”

Aaron Dunn, 30, who sells The Big Issue in London’s Covent Garden and who has already trialled the new system, said: “It is great because you get to earn extra money on top of the sales you make of the magazine. You never know how far it is going to go. One of my magazines has already been passed around over 20 times.”

Around 1,500 vendors sell The Big Issue, which aims to help the homeless or vulnerably housed people across the UK.

In January 2019, the magazine trialled an augmented reality version that allowed readers to experience interactive stories printed throughout the publication. 

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