Bristol ‘Big Issue’ vendors will be some of the first to trial the use of contactless card payments when selling the magazine.
James Wilkinson, who manages the scheme for Bristol and Bath, explained that the idea is a way to make it easier for customers to purchase the magazine as less and less people are carrying cash with them.
“25% of people don’t carry cash, the ‘Big Issue’ as a model effectively relies on people carrying cash,” he said.
The initiative has been funded by ‘iZettle’, a Swedish financial technology company, who have donated an initial 50 contactless machines to the ‘Big Issue’ for the trial.
So far there are three vendors using the contactless machines in Bristol.
If the trial is seen as a success after eight weeks the machines will be rolled out to more vendors on a larger scale.
Mr Wilkinson said they are still facing some problems with the scheme.
For example, to receive contactless payments you have to have a bank account, this can be a real problem for ‘Big Issue’ vendors who are homeless.
“To have a bank account you typically need a fixed address. This is obviously a problem,” said Mr Wilkinson.
Also, if the scheme is put into place, discussions with ‘iZettle’ would have to take place concerning what commissions and charges vendors (or ‘Big Issue’ itself) would face when using contactless payments rather than cash; although there are no commissions being charged for the trial.
As proof of the success of the scheme, Mr Wilkinson mentioned how a Bristol vendor (who had bought a contactless machine off his own back) managed to increase his sales by 20 copies from his usual weekly average.
“The machine paid for itself within a week,” he said.