One of the most common topics we receive emails about is Big Issue vendors taking card payments.
We know we are moving towards a cashless society and need to adapt. Unfortunately, providing everyone with a contactless device is not as simple as it seems but it is something that The Big Issue is working on.
The Big Issue is already working on several schemes to implement contactless payments for vendors. The Big Issue had it’s first trial with iZettle (contactless payment providers) was at the end of last year and was quite successful. You can read more about it here.
The Big Issue Foundation has also been supporting vendors to obtain contactless readers and compatible phones through our Vendor Support Fund. Like the Big Issue magazine’s business model of self-help, vendors save and contribute 20-50% towards the cost of the item required. The Big Issue Foundation, through our donated funds, then provide the remaining balance. These items can help vendors increase their employment related skills, improve their financial management or improve their opportunities to engage fully with society. You can support the Vendor Support Fund by donating here.
One large barrier to the implementation of this technology with Big Issue vendors has been a lack of a bank account. It can often be challenging for them to obtain a bank account without an official form of identification. Big Issue vendors can receive support in making applications via The Big issue Foundation. Vendors can also apply to the Vendor Support Fund to assist them in funding the cost of acquiring ID.
Another barrier to obtaining a bank account is if they have no fixed address. One of our main areas of work is housing. We support vendors to access safe and secure accommodation and prevented future homelessness through ongoing support. However it can take sometime to secure permanent accommodation. The Big Issue is currently working with tech company Proxy Address to try and circumvent this issue. You can read more about that here.
I hope this will give you more of an understanding of the work we are doing and the challenges faced with something that may seem simple to us such as getting a contactless payment device.