UK homeless goes cashless

It’s 8am and Jonjo Doe is getting ready for his morning shift as a vendor of the Big Issue. Arriving in Cambridge three years ago after a brief spell in prison, he was homeless but eager to rebuild his life. Selling the Big Issue was one of the best ways to do that – and for a while the plan worked.

“I tend to ask everyone who walks by if they want to buy one,” says Doe. “Most people either come up with the excuse, ‘I haven’t got any change’ – which is easy [to respond to with] ‘I’ve got change for a note’ – but then there was, ‘Oh no, I’ve only got my card.’ And it just kept happening.”

Doe’s problem is familiar. Cash payments are in steep decline across Britain. In 2006, coins and notes were used for 62% of all transactions. Last year that fell to 40%, and by 2026 cash is expected to account for only 21% of purchases.

Seeing his business ebb away, Doe bought a contactless card reader. Sales have improved. Around a quarter of his customers now pay using contactless cards, he says. GUARDIAN

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