Forward-thinking Big Issue vendor Paul Snape has seen his sales skyrocket after accepting cashless payments with a card reader.
The 47-year-old, who sells the magazine outside M&S in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, opted to spend £33 of his magazine proceeds on the card reader from Amazon.com after being inspired by vendor Robin Fabian.
Bristol vendor Robin hit the headlines across the UK after offering his regulars the chance to go cashless with the device that “paid for itself in one day”.
And the same has been true for long-time vendor Paul, who insists that he is “selling more than he ever has” since picking up the device on April 6.
Originally from Wigan, the former builder has been selling the magazine off and on since 1998 in Ipswich, Canterbury and Wales before settling in Nottingham where he has lived for 11 years.
“I managed to pick up a few more customers after I invested in a card machine,” said Paul. “The first week that I started using it I picked up 16-17 customers – one guy who only ever buys the magazine with his wife came and bought one on his own because I had the reader, for example.”
The Big Issue has inspired the launch of 120 street papers globally, including sister titles in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
While there is slight cost for each transaction, Paul insists that offering another way to pay has been attractive for customers – and has caught the eye of fellow vendors too.
“I ordered it online for £33 after seeing the story about Robin in Bristol and it has been well worth the money – I’m selling more than I ever have,” said Paul. “It takes a small percentage of each transaction – about 4p – but I don’t mind that, I even got 30 days free. One of the vendors who has seen me with it now wants to get his own so I think it’ll catch on.”
The Big Issue is actively investigating methods to bring the option of cashless payments to all vendors. It is a complicated issue with many considerations. The Big Issue Group managing director Russell Blackman said in a recent interview with Creative Brief: “It is vital that we develop the right contactless solution for our vendors, ensuring that they can get instant access to their funds, even if they don’t have their own bank account due to a lack of permanent address.
“As we work to draw in a wider and younger community, we must ensure we are developing a solution that overcomes the obvious barriers to entry – people not carrying cash – and one that allows for spontaneous and opportunistic street sales.”
We have opened up The Big Issue to ideas with The Big Issue Platform – non-partisan and open to politicians, policy-makers, business, third-sector leaders, readers and vendors. Anybody who has an idea that can be part of the solution to breaking the cycle of homelessness, including on implementing cashless payments – send it to us.