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Paid for by Zettle by PayPal

More and more Big Issue vendors are now taking contactless payments – and it's really working

Popularity of contactless payments continues to rise – here’s how Zettle by PayPal is supporting our vendors to never miss a sale

Big Issue Vendor Claudia Calin in Bath, Somerset Re: PayPal collaboration Photo: Exposure Photo Agency

Paidby from Zettle by PayPal

Contactless is rapidly becoming the norm for many of us. It seems like more and more people rarely or never carry cash these days.

When a wave of our card, phone or watch is so quick and convenient, it’s easy to see why cash is falling out of favour.

But for some people this shift can be scary, and make them feel like they are being left behind. Without digital access, paying with anything other than notes and coins isn’t an option.

Big Issue vendors have been at the sharp edge of this. But in the same way that The Big Issue was a groundbreaking idea when it hit the streets more than 30 years ago, our innovative thinking continues.

Since 2018, Big Issue has worked with Zettle by PayPal to improve digital and financial inclusion for our magazine sellers.

In that time, more than 1,200 Big Issue vendors have been kitted out with contactless technology to keep them competitive in the high street. And last September, for the first time cashless vendors accounted for more than half of all Big Issue sales.

Zettle by PayPal and The Big Issue

In May this year Zettle by PayPal introduced Tap to Pay, which enabled Big Issue sellers to start accepting contactless payments within minutes of signing up. It gives vendors the chance to accept payment on their Android device – all they have to do is download the Zettle app and they’re good to go within minutes.

“I sell more magazines now because a lot of people say ‘oh, I don’t have any cash’,” she explains. “Then they ask if they can pay by card and it turns that no into a yes.”

Claudia, Big Issue vendor

Claudia Calin sells The Big Issue in Bath and has seen growth in sales thanks to contactless technology.

“I sell more magazines now because a lot of people say ‘oh, I don’t have any cash’,” she explains. “Then they ask if they can pay by card and it turns that no into a yes.”

Claudia, 32, has come close to doubling her sales since starting to offer cashless payments a year ago. And with three children at home, it’s very important to her that she sells as many magazines as possible.

“If I didn’t offer cashless I’d sell 30 to 35 magazines a week,” she says.

“With the reader I’m selling 50 or 60 a week. The customers like it too. I’ve got lovely customers.”

Claudia isn’t an outlier – 43 per cent of Big Issue vendors now offer cashless payments. The Big Issue has also been supporting vendors to source ID, a bank account and a compatible device.

“If I didn’t offer cashless I’d sell 30 to 35 magazines a week … with the reader I’m selling 50 or 60”

Claudia

This not only opens up more sales to vendors, it starts them on the path to digital and financial inclusion that Zettle by PayPal is keen to support.

The timing has been vital

Big Issue frontline director Chris Falchi-Stead says customers began asking about card payments even before Covid hit.

“But since returning to selling after the pandemic this trend has accelerated rapidly,” he explains. “Many of our vendors who were slightly hesitant about signing up to accept cashless payments are now fully embracing it.”

He has a good idea why cashless vendors are reporting increased sales. “We’ve found that part of this success to move our vendors to cashless is how easy it is,” he says. “PayPal have made the whole process so simple for vendors to sign up, and the transaction of selling the magazine is seamless.

“Every week, more of our vendors are becoming cashless thanks to this partnership, and it’s having a truly positive impact on their lives.”

Chris Falchi-Stead, Big Issue frontline director

Simone Gill, who sells the magazine in Plymouth, is just one such vendor.

“It’s definitely made a difference,” says Simone, 43. “More and more people are just leaving cash behind these days because they can pay with their phone or their watch.”

Simone is disabled and so working on her pitch can be challenging. She’s already upped her hours because business is slower, which means she isn’t left with much time to pursue art, which is her passion. So selling as many magazines as possible in the time she’s out there is vital.

“The rising costs are terrible, I spend so much more on shopping nowadays,” she says.

“I have to work more hours and so I really need to make that time count,” she says. “I don’t want to lose the customers who want to pay by card.”

As Ed Hallett, senior director of small business at PayPal, points out, flexibility and convenience better serve customers.

“People are increasingly moving away from cash, preferring digital ways to pay in-person, as it’s much faster, more convenient and flexible,” he says.“To better serve customers, many are turning to solutions like the Zettle Card Reader and Tap to Pay, and we’ve heard from many of our customers that they have increased sales and customer loyalty by doing so.

“It’s wonderful that many Big Issue vendors are seeing the same benefits.

“We believe in the power of individual sellers, entrepreneurs and small businesses, and love to see how our digital tools help them connect with customers and support sales.”

Where to get help

If you’re struggling to get online, or know someone who is, there’s free help available from the Good Things Foundation charity, which is bidding to end the UK’s digital divide. Its Learn My Way service offers free courses to help people develop their digital skills, even if they’ve never been online before. To find out more click the link or call 0114 349 1666.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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