What do you do when a homeless person asks you for cash?
No-one is judging you. We are a broad church here across Finextra and acceptable answers may include giving a donation, doing absolutely nothing, or perhaps doing the “pat your pocket – got no change” dance.
But how do you respond when the appellant also presents a chip-and-PIN card reader?
Judging by British press articles yesterday (e.g.
www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ uknews/crime/11349189/Beggar-uses-card-reader-to-take-donations.html), the reaction seems to be somewhat hostile.
Commuting from a home in the north of England to his place of work in London – mainly around swanky clubs and restaurants – Mr Damien Preston-Booth persuades people to make payments in return for dubious propositions. He even posts photos of himself on Facebook,
showing frequent holidays and his smart new home. But a real focus of vitriol on this modern Supertramp is that he has the cheek to use electronic payments.
The real outrage may be concerned with the legal aspects of begging, benefit claims, taxes, and blagging money away from genuinely needy, homeless people. But if you can ignore the ethics for a moment, there may be something worth tracking here.
This guy is obviously a pretty good entrepreneur. So he will have explored the various payment service options available. And he’s concluded that whilst cash is OK, he doesn’t mind paying the fees associated with plastic cards. Perhaps that is because it
gives him the broadest possible acceptance from both domestic and international donors.
I’m surprised however that he’s not accepting Paypal. And he’s ignoring the benefits of the UK Paym account transfer system. He's probably not been bothered to look at alternative schemes available across Europe. But then again, not many restaurants in Mayfair
have either. Perhaps payment processors in London need to up their game.
An acceptable response, by the way, is to walk on by. But its not a trivial issue at this time of year, so the author has (added to his normal article fee and) made a donation to www.centrepoint.org.uk and www.actionforchildren.org.uk. Paypal worked fine.