Big Issue vendors are backing iZettle’s plans for contactless busking

Dean Porter has been using his device in London since December

Last week, Sadiq Khan announced that buskers and street performers on the streets of London would receive iZettle contactless card readers – but one Big Issue vendor is a step ahead.

Dean Porter, 43, has been using a device to offer cashless payments on his pitch outside Sainsbury’s Local in Kensington Church Street in London since December.

Busking in London, a mayor-backed organisation that has regulated street performers in the English capital since 2015, partnered with Swedish tech firm iZettle to allow passers-by to pay for street performances with a tap of their card.

The firm, which was bought by US e-commerce giant Paypal for £1.6bn earlier this month, says it will soon begin rolling out card readers following successful trials.

Full-time busker Charlotte Campbell insists that her time with one of the devices shows that street performance risks becoming a “dying art” without the technology.

And South London native Dean opted to spend £35 to buy the iZettle reader from departed electronics firm Maplin and publicised it with a laminated sign and a t-shirt on his pitch.

DID YOU KNOW…

Last year, 27,000 people worldwide earned an income selling street papers, making a total of £23.4 million.

Since then, he has seen his sales skyrocket with personal record takings of £90 in a week earlier in the year before more than doubling it with earnings of £220 a month later.

“People are starting to take to it – it’s a really useful device,” the vendor said. “I have it on a lanyard so when people have said that I should start to offer cashless, it is right underneath their nose.

“There was a bit of a transitional period while I got used to it but now it is second nature and it’s going well, I’ve managed to set a new record then gone on to double it in terms of sales. I’m trying to save up for a deposit for a flat to rent at the moment – that’s the aim at the moment really. I’m building up slowly but it’s helping me because it goes directly into my account so I can get saving without any distraction.

“I think that rolling the devices out to all the buskers in London is a brilliant idea. I spoke to the girl (Campbell) who was trialling it on Twitter and she helped me to set up payments to a set level so customers can just tap it, which was very useful.”

Dean Porter
Dean-Porter-card-reader
London vendor Dean Porter has been sporting a card reader on his lanyard since December

After testing out the device with success in London, Dean insists that he would like to see the number of vendors using iZettle and other card readers increase.

The Big Issue is currently exploring ways to bring contactless technology to vendors and is calling on fintech firms who can help to get in touch.

“I know that some vendors don’t have bank accounts so there are obviously some difficulties to be overcome,” said Dean.

“But it can be really helpful – sometimes people will say, “I don’t have any cash” and now I’m able to respond “I have a card machine”. I don’t pressure people but it sparks a conversation, which is great, and I often find after a chat that people often buy the magazine.”