Enable every Big Issue vendor in Bristol to accept card, contactless and Apple Pay payments.

Maybe it’s just me, or perhaps it’s society in general, but I for one have stopped carrying cash. Even when I do have some on me, it’s usually very little. Therefore, when I’m asked by a Big Issue seller whether or not I would like to purchase a magazine, I genuinely have to say that I’m not carrying any cash and if I’m honest, this makes me feel a little sad.

“Sad?”, you may ask?  Yes; I personally believe that the Big Issue is an important stepping-stone for those keen to get themselves out of poverty and to improve their daily lives. I’m in full support of that.

Along came Apple Pay.

This last week (from 28th July), I attempted to use Apple Pay in every café and restaurant I visited during my lunch breaks and avoid using plastic. My attempts have been successful and I am yet to find an establishment that didn’t accept this new method of contactless payment (much to the amusement of my colleagues who believe I’m becoming a little obsessed). I even enjoyed surprising the café staff, who just thought I was using ‘witchcraft’ as I waved my phone over the payment terminals. Then, during one of these lunch break challenges, I walked past a Big Issue seller and made the usual ‘cashless’ excuses, and then it hit me: “What if these guys could accept cards or contactless payment?”

Turning an idea in to reality.

I did some initial research and came across an article about a London Big Issue vendor  who started using a mobile payment terminal from a Swedish company called iZettle to take card payments. Furthermore, I found that this same company have helped Sweden’s equivalent of the Big Issue by launching a scheme to let sellers accept payment by card on their smartphones throughout Skokholm.

I have decided to challenge myself to enable Big Issue sellers in Bristol to accept card and contactless payments.

So where do I begin? Firstly I decided to set up as a starting point, build a list of requirements and provide an ongoing progress report (via a blog).  I believe that in order to help the many, we should all start by helping “the one” and that’s how I want this project to start…

List of requirements:


Teaming up with the right people & organisations.

Raise funds, accept donations & use my own finances to buy equipment.

Creating bank accounts (for sellers who don’t already have one).

Source smartphones & organise data contracts.


Work with mobile payment terminal providers (e.g. iZettle).

Find a solution to allow sellers to charge their phones at night.

Create signage for sellers in the form of hats, bags, t-shirts or badges.

Raise awareness that Bristol Big Issue sellers accept card payments via press and social media.


Get in touch and get involved.

If you would like to make suggestions, provide feedback or donate your time, contacts, devices or money, then please get in touch with me – or via twitter: 

Who is behind

David SmithMy name is David Smith and I’m an entrepreneur who is passionate about helping the homeless and the less fortunate through technology and the skills that I possess. I am always looking for new ways to empower homeless people living in Bristol and help them to improve their lives.

My skills and interests include design, development, technology, business and social entrepreneurism. I currently run a creative development company called Made Responsively Ltd, which is located on Park Street, Bristol. I work within a studio filled with other creatives and developers, and we work as a collaborative to take on larger projects.


  • Bharat Kunwar

    Awesome idea! This could be scaled throughout the country! You must have plenty of people wanting to get involved but I have some experience with coding etc. so I’d love to help a bit if you need some.

    • Hello Bharat, thank you for your kind comments. Yes, I have had a number of people want to get involved. What kind of coding experience do you have?

  • I know this sounds like a silly question, but are you working in partnership with the Big Issue on this?

    • Hello Paul, it’s a not a silly question. I’m waiting on a response from the Big Issue. However, I’ll be meeting up with the ex Big Issue MD in Bristol soon to discuss the best way forward and the best people to make contact with.

  • @maderesponsively:disqus I hope this message finds you well. I’m wondering, how have things progressed with this project?