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The Big Issue accelerates move to cashless payments as vendors armed with contactless technology see 30% increase in sales

  • Since the first lockdown, there has been a 208% increase in Big Issue vendors offering cashless payments via the Zettle card reader, seeing an average 30% increase in sales
  • Vendors can now also accept touch-free payments via PayPal QR Codes

The Big Issue Group (TBIG) has marked the milestone of equipping over a third (594) of its vendor network with contactless technology via the Zettle card reader. In addition, TBIG has also announced that vendors can now offer PayPal QR Code payments to their customers, ensuring that they can respond to the need for touch-free, digital payments given our new norm during this global pandemic. 

TBIG has worked in collaboration with Zettle since 2018 to ensure Big Issue vendors, some of society’s most vulnerable people, are financially included and have access to the tools they need to thrive in an increasingly digital world. To meet shifts in consumer behaviour and respond to the impact of the pandemic, the organisation rapidly accelerated the drive to rollout contactless payment technology to as many vendors as possible to help increase sales out of lockdown, given social distancing being in place and customers being less likely to carry cash. Customers can also scan the PayPal QR Code on a vendor’s phone and pay for the magazine out of their PayPal account within seconds.

Dave, 59, normally sells the magazine on his pitch outside Tesco, Brook Green, Hammersmith and was one of the earliest vendors to go cashless, so was aware of the benefits of offering contactless sales even before the pandemic.

“The Big Issue helped me out, setting up my bank account and I signed up with Zettle. And it definitely helped my sales. And because of the pandemic, card sales increased a lot. I call it ‘Covid reasons’ – people shop less regularly, they shop online, or are just afraid to come out. You get a lot of people who don’t engage any more, withdraw into themselves. People don’t use cash these days, and they are often in a rush – if they know they can pay cashless they know it’s going to be quick and it’s going to be secure as well.”

Beth Thomas, The Big Issue’s Head of Partnerships and Programmes, said:

“The pandemic has only accelerated the need for vendors to accept cashless payments and we began a lot of this work with some vendors whilst still in lockdown. For us at The Big Issue, financial and digital inclusion is so important as it enables vendors to access the same services and products as everyone else, regardless of their personal circumstances. Our partnership with Zettle and PayPal has enabled us to work with our vendors to help them to manage their finances confidently, using technology to enhance this experience and ensure they get the best access to services and the best value of products.”

For more information or to locate your local vendor and buy an issue directly from them visit

Visit The Big Issue’s YouTube channel to see Dave talk about his experience of lockdown, returning to his pitch, his community and how the ability to offer cashless payments thanks to Zettle has given him a boost: