London’s buskers are going cashless with iZettle card readers

Big Issue vendors could be set to follow

The age of chucking a few coins in a hat or an empty guitar case could become a thing of the past as buskers and street performers in London go cashless.

Busking in London, a mayor-backed organisation that has regulated street performers since 2015, has partnered with Swedish tech firm iZettle to allow passers-by to pay for 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.

She said: “More people than ever tap to donate while I sing. And often when one person does, another follows. If street performers like me don’t adapt to the cashless society, we risk becoming a dying art.”

DID YOU KNOW…

Since 1991 The Big Issue has sold more than 200,000,000 copies – helping the most vulnerable in society earn more than £115 million.

Announcing the scheme on Sunday, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan heralded the initiative as a key part of fostering a culture to create a “global capital of music”.

“London is a powerhouse of music, having produced artists from Adele to Stormzy, and The xx to Dua Lipa,” he said.

“For London to maintain its status as a global capital of music, it’s vitally important that we support the stars of tomorrow. Busking helps emerging artists to hone their talent and gives them the chance to perform in front of huge numbers of people. I’m delighted that iZettle has chosen London to launch this innovative scheme – allowing artists to accept donations by card payment, as well as cash.”

Big Issue vendor Robin Fabian
Robin-Fabian-2
Bristol vendor Robin Fabian

Street performers are not the only ones offering alternative ways to pay – many Big Issue vendors are offering cashless payments too.

Robin Fabian hit the headlines in February after he opted to buy a card reader before Paul Snape and Andrew McGarry followed suit.

The Big Issue is working to provide this option for all of our vendors and we’re looking for a fintech firm to help us bring the idea forward, get in touch at editorial@bigissue.com if you can help.

Main image: Jabiz Raisdana/Flickr