Giffgaff kits out Big Issue sellers with NFC-equipped phones for easier mobile payments

Photo credit: Exposure Agency

Giffgaff is providing the Big Issue with 250 refurbished phones, which the organisation’s frontline teams are distributing to new vendors, enabling them to increase their cashless sales.

This will be the Big Issue’s first phone partnership with a mobile network, and the first time that vendors will have access to phones equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, enabling them to take cashless payments directly using a smartphone, without the need for an additional card reader.

The partnership with Giffgaff builds on the Big Issue’s existing work to support vendors with cashless transactions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisation’s frontline teams started supplying vendors with card readers, allowing them to continue selling the magazine in line with health guidelines.

It also helped them get up to speed with an increasingly cashless society, which saw 17 billion contactless payments made in the UK last year and 87% of people using contactless technology at least once a month (source: Vendors quickly saw results when they started offering customers this fuss-free payment option. In an average week, they sold five more magazines, adding up to £520 per year in additional earnings.

“We’ve all been in situations where people have been trying to sell us the Big Issue and there’s an awkward moment when you realise you haven’t got any cash, because a lot of us don’t carry it anymore,” said Giffgaff CEO, Ash Schofield. “So, by providing phones through this partnership, we help to remove that barrier. The partnership is steeped in shared values around connection, accessibility and sustainability. We’re trying to make connectivity through mobile as accessible as possible, because fundamentally it’s the right thing to do.”

A Big Issue vendor who is now able to take contactless payments is Marsilia Cimpeanu, who sells the magazine outside Waitrose in Winchmore Hill, North London. “I’ve seen a big difference in my sales, because a lot of people don’t have cash on them as much as they used to,” she said of her experience taking contactless payments. “It’s more convenient and secure. I can ask customers if they want a receipt via email, and when you tell them that, you give them a sense of security. I think it’s very useful for vendors and for customers.

“Once they see that they have that security and trust, they can come back to buy the Big Issue with you if they don’t have any cash, or if they want to continue using contactless because they prefer it. It saves time.”