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Big Issue sellers nationwide now take contactless payments

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The Big Issue is extending an initiative across the country that will allow its street vendors to accept cashless payments for purchases of the magazine.

The move is designed to help homeless sellers of the magazine as cash use in the UK falls dramatically; a review from financial experts earlier this year suggested that the cash economy is at risk without intervention from the Government.

A pilot scheme earlier this year saw Big Issue vendors take on average a quarter of their sales in cashless payments, with some reporting around 80 per cent of their sales were cashless.

While some individual vendors have already taken it upon themselves to introduce the technology, the Big Issue said it wants all of its sellers to have the opportunity to use a card reader.

It has partnered with financial technology company iZettle - recently bought by PayPal - which specialises in offering mobile payment terminals.

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 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.”

Edward Hallett, managing director at iZettle UK, said: “Today, 80 per cent of iZettle’s total card payments in the UK are contactless, as more people than ever choose to tap to pay for their purchases.

“It is fantastic to give even more sellers access to the tools they need to stay on top of consumer trends and manage in an increasingly cashless society.”

Jim Hannah, 59, who sells the magazine in Norwich, said: “I am really pleased to be able to offer card payments to my lovely customers, which I am now able to do thanks to the Big Issue team and iZettle.

“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. I now feel ready for a cashless future.”

Mike Hall, 29, who sells the magazine inside Bristol Temple Meads railway station, said: “Since I started using my iZettle card reader, I have seen my sales increase by a third, which is incredible.

“It has been really important in attracting more customers to buy copies of the magazine from me and I am so pleased to be part of being able to offer contactless.”

The Big Issue has often been quick to jump on technology trends with trials of ‘resellable’ magazines taking place earlier this year with the use of QR codes. It also launched an augmented reality version of the magazine that could be accessed via an app.

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