Sweden’s homeless use iZettle to sell the ‘Big Issue’

Sweden is fast becoming the most cashless country in the world. Indeed, such is the progress, that homeless people in the capital city Stockholm have started taking cards using iZettle when they sell the equivalent magazine to the Big Issue called Situation.

According to iZettle chief executive Jacob de Geer, barely anyone below the age of 40 carries cash on a routine basis. And that was hurting the homeless sellers of the magazine according Pia Stolt of Situation: “More and more sellers were telling us that people wanted a copy of the magazine but weren’t carrying cash. It got to the point where we had to do something, so we worked with Stockholm-based mobile payments company iZettle and came up with a way to sell the magazine electronically.”

“We didn’t know how it would turn out, or whether people would be reluctant to give their credit card information to a homeless person, but the results have been great – vendors’ sales are up 59%,” says Stolt.

One of the campaigners for Sweden becoming an entirely cashless society is Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus. After his son was mugged he became evangelical about electronic payments. He claims cash was the key cause of crime and that “all activity in the black economy requires cash”. He notes that the only thing he misses about cash, he hasn’t used it for a year, is “a coin to borrow a trolley at the supermarket.”

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I was thinking on how all the beggars in the street these days could improve on revenue. Today almost nobody carries cash in any form and beggars are still depending on cash dropping into their cup. Will we begin seeing soon the iZettle readers with them, tied to a bank account of some social trustee that supports the group ? That would simplify for people who want to donate and who feel bad for not carrying cash in that situation.

Gunnar Forsgren • 12th November 2014 •

I think it would be better to donate to a charity supporting the homeless, rather than make individual donations to individuals. In that way more people can be helped, rather than just the ones that make themselves more visible in the street.

Mark • 12th November 2014 •