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Don't carry cash? Don't worry, 1,000 Big Issue sellers now accept contactless payments

Two-thirds of Big Issue sellers now accept contactless payments, and all 1,500 will by the end of this year.

Robert, Big Issue vendor, Waitrose Marylebone High Street

Robert, Big Issue vendor, Waitrose Marylebone High Street

The pat-your-pockets-and-grimace combination is on its way to becoming history, with 1,000 of the Big Issue’s 1,500 vendors now taking contactless payments.

Getting rid of the need for a card reader, vendors will now be able to accept payments directly on their phones.

It’s part of a drive that will see all 1,500 Big Issue vendors becoming cashless by the end of the year. A year ago, 594 sellers were able to take contactless payments.

PayPal Zettle’s Tap To Pay lets vendors download an app and accept payments within minutes. Those buying the magazine need only tap their card or phone on the back of the vendor’s Android device.

While the vendors will still accept cash, stats show accepting cashless payments allows them to sell 35 per cent more magazines.

Nearly 70 per cent of debit card transactions, and over half of credit card transactions in the UK are now contactless.

There is no extra charge to the vendor, compared to chip and pin card transactions, for using contactless.

Dave normally sells the magazine on his pitch at Tesco, Brook Green, Hammersmith. He was one of the earliest vendors to go cashless, and so was aware of the benefits of offering contactless sales even before the pandemic. “The Big Issue helped me to set up my bank account and sign up with Zettle by PayPal, and it has definitely helped my sales,” he said.

“Since the pandemic, most people want to pay by card as people don’t use cash these days, and they are often in a rush. So if they can pay by contactless they know it’s going to be quick and it’s going to be secure as well.

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“And for me, Tap to Pay makes the process even simpler as I only need my phone, and that’s great! It’ll be perfect for new sellers too, as they can get out and start selling magazines with contactless as an option really quickly.”

Russell Blackman, managing director of commercial at The Big Issue, said: “This is an exciting milestone for The Big Issue Group. We have long-recognised that we are operating in an increasingly cashless society, even more so since the pandemic. 

“Big Issue vendors are microentrepreneurs, effectively running their own small businesses, so understandably there are many who are keen to offer their customers an alternative to cash.” 

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