Simon Gravell has started offering card payments on his pitch in Norwich, becoming the latest Big Issue vendor to go contactless.
The 51-year-old, who sells the Big Issue magazine outside Topshop in the city centre, spent £30 to buy the card machine after noticing that the majority of his customers had stopped carrying cash.
And he admits that it has taken a couple of weeks for his customers to adapt to the change but he is now seeing the benefits of offering a new way to pay for the magazine.
People just aren’t carrying cash anymore – if you hear it once a day then you hearing it a thousand times, “I’m sorry, I’ve only got a card”
“It’s been steady, it’s about getting people to believe that I do have a card machine,” Simon told The Big Issue. “I say, ‘You can pay by card if you want’ and they’ll just laugh at you, but when they realise that you’re serious they’ll then use it.
“Luckily I managed to get some news coverage and then I absolutely smashed it with the card machine. People were coming up to me with their cards ready and I literally doubled my best day on it.”
The Big Issue has inspired the launch of 120 street papers globally, including sister titles in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
Last year’s Access to Cash Review warned that eight million people still use cash and could face financial exclusion should the UK continue on its path towards a totally cashless society.
However, cash use has halved in the past decade, risking leaving those on the fringes of society financially excluded.
“People just aren’t carrying cash anymore – if you hear it once a day then you hearing it a thousand times, “I’m sorry, I’ve only got a card”,” said Simon. “Sometimes people use that as an excuse but most of the time I think that is true.
“I’ve picked up one customer, she’s an absolutely lovely lady who used to speak to me a couple of times a week on her way to work but never bought a magazine. I just mentioned that I had a card machine to her and she bought a magazine for the first time.”
The Big Issue has teamed up with iZettle to trial contactless payments for vendors and we will be announcing the next stage of the partnership in early August.