The Big Issue teams up with ProxyAddress to level playing field for vendors

The tech solution offers Big Issue sellers an address to act as ID, allowing them to access bank accounts and other financial products and services

Big Issue vendors often find themselves financially excluded simply because they do not have a fixed address – so we have teamed up ProxyAddress to help them access vital financial products and services.

The innovative tech firm, founded by architect Chris Hildrey in 2017, will allow vendors to access bank accounts without the need for proof of address, using empty homes in the UK to create a duplicate ‘proxy’ address for data purposes.

This will have no impact on the owner of the address with mail redirected to an address where the vendor can collect it.

But by giving marginalised vendors an address, they will be able to apply for jobs or benefits, get a GP, open a bank account and apply for forms of identification that could prove crucial to allow them to participate in society.

Having a bank account is also a key step in allowing our vendors to offer contactless payments, a vital step in this increasingly cashless society.

DID YOU KNOW…

The Big Issue has inspired the launch of 120 street papers globally, including sister titles in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

The Big Issue will be announcing further details about the next step of our iZettle trial of contactless payments for vendors early next month.

Beth Thomas, The Big Issue’s head of programmes and partnerships, said: “As we move towards a cashless society, it is essential we do not further exclude those already on the fringes of society. At The Big Issue, we are committed to focussing on the financial and digital inclusion needs of our vendors and are actively building meaningful partnerships to achieve this.

“Our partnership with ProxyAddress will seek to overcome an all too familiar barrier that Big Issue vendors are faced with when trying to access financial products and services such as bank accounts. This system levels the playing field for our vendors and creates the opportunity for those sleeping on the street or in temporary accommodation to gain a bank account and access cashless payments.”

ProxyAddress is already working with Lewisham Council in London towards a live trial of the service as part of Financial Conduct Authority’s regulatory sandbox.

The partnership with The Big Issue is their latest in the homelessness sector following a team-up with Crisis. ProxyAddress are also working with challenger bank Monzo, HM Land Registry and Ordnance Survey among other organisations.

“This partnership with The Big Issue represents another step in the right direction for ProxyAddress,” said ProxyAddress founder Hildrey. “By making use of existing data and processes, we’re able to unlock critical support at an early stage for those facing the most difficult of circumstances. Reinstating a social safety net for the vulnerable requires a range of expertise so we’re delighted to be joined by The Big Issue and to share their goal of providing those affected with a hand up rather than a hand out.”

Image: ProxyAddress